Success no secret

Published 7:29 pm Monday, May 27, 2019

Editor’s Note: This is the first in the Suffolk News-Herald’s annual series of stories on the valedictorians at Suffolk’s five high schools.

Amanda Chen said she did not expect to become valedictorian because friends had told her that students in the International Baccalaureate program typically get that distinction.

Still, she said she is honored to be King’s Fork High School’s valedictorian for the class of 2019.


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But when she found out, she had another realization.

“Oh my God, I have to give a speech,” Chen said. “Pretty nerve-wracking.”

Chen said she hopes to use her speech to motivate and inspire her class not to give up on anything they want to achieve in the future.

She said, however, that there has been no secret to her success in school, though the workload got to be stressful at times.

“I did all my homework,” Chen said. “That probably helped. I just did my work, I didn’t really do anything special. I studied, did my classwork, homework, all that, tried my best. And here I am, I guess.”

Chen, 18, who was born in New York, moved to Suffolk when she was a baby and attended both Elephant’s Fork and Hillpoint elementary schools before going to King’s Fork Middle School and King’s Fork High School.

She said it was her family who pushed her to try harder and get her out of her comfort zone by signing up for Advanced Placement classes.

“Sometimes I just feel like I can’t do it,” Chen said. “And they’re like, ‘You have to keep on going. You can do it.’”

Her friends also helped push her, and Chen said they, as well as her teachers, have been a part of her favorite high school memories.

In the fall, she will attend Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. She hasn’t decided yet on a major, but is leaning toward pharmacy.

Her advice to the freshmen just beginning their high school journey? It’s not that bad. She was scared as a freshman, but now she’s a senior on the verge of graduating. She said people will succeed eventually if they put in the effort.

“Doing your homework is really going to help,” Chen said. “You can have fun, but try not to goof off in class too much, ‘cause usually it’s going to mess with you in the long run.”

Chen said she plans to work during the summer but otherwise has no big plans. She would like to get back to drawing, and expects to play more video games — “Splatoon” on Nintendo Switch is a favorite – and sleep a lot before getting to Richmond.

“It doesn’t feel like school is about to be over. … It still feels like I have more time here, more stuff to do,” Chen said, “but there isn’t much else to do. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking.”