• Eukyung Yang
  • Senior, Riverwood International Charter High School
Jennifer Yhang
Jennifer Yhang

When Eukyung Yang, who also goes by Jennifer, was 10 years old, she moved from Korea to Florida. She didn’t know a single word of English.

She turned to math.

“When you don’t know English, numbers are the only things that make sense. It really is a universal language,” Eukyung said.

Eukyung grew very comfortable with math throughout her schooling. When she moved from Florida to metro Atlanta and enrolled in Riverwood International Charter High, she expected to find a math club she could join upon arrival.

To her surprise, Riverwood had no math club.

So Eukyung took it upon herself to start one. It’s still going strong. And the club recently chose new officers, so it can continue after Eukyung graduates and moves on to college.

Eukyung speculates that the International Baccalaureate Program focus at Riverwood explained the lack of a math club.

Yet that same liberal-arts focus also contributed to her increased appreciation for the study of foreign languages in high school. As she mastered English, she also started to study French.

“Although I started learning the language because it’s a requirement, it’s become a passion,” Eukyung said. “French has opened a lot of doors for me. I love that when you can communicate with a native, you immediately establish a sense of friendship and belonging.”

Eukyung has also been active in community service work during her time in high school.

For the past two years, she has been volunteering regularly at the Chastain Horse Park. Volunteers facilitate the therapeutic program, known as Equine Assisted Therapy, in which children with disabilities, the elderly, and people recovering from injuries ride horses with the help of volunteers like Eukyung.

“I had never been in close contact with horses before, so it was a challenging, new experience,” said Eukyung.

She has grown to love working with people there.

“My biggest motivation is the children,” Eukyung said. “It’s just so much fun to be around them and it gives a great feeling that you’ve helped someone that day. It gives another aspect to life.”

Academics are a priority for Eukyung. Riverwood has been academically challenging for her, she said, but she is graduating as one of the Top Ten students in the Class of 2013.

“At first, when they announced the Top Ten and my name was called, I didn’t believe it,” she said. “But as time went on, it began to sink in and I just became happier and happier.”

It made all of the hard work worth it in the end.

“High school is very demanding, and it requires a lot from me,” Eukyung said. “But since all of my friends go through it together, it’s really helped form close friendships.”

What’s Next:

Eukyung still is deciding where she will attend college next year. She hopes to continue to study French and thinks a semester abroad is a must. She also hopes to continue to help at the Horse Park and venture into other community service opportunities while she’s in college.

Elizabeth Wilkes, a student at North Springs Charter High, reported and wrote this article.