Senior Spotlight: Jenica Liang


Senior Jenica Liang

Chloe Tu

Jenica Liang, born on November 30, 2004, is a 17-year-old senior at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School. She is a part of the school’s robotics club and set construction for the play. Liang stands out amongst other students as she is also part of the National Honor Society, National English Honors Society and is the secretary of the Spanish Honor Society. In her free time, she enjoys doing many different activities such as watching YouTube and anime. She also likes drawing, listening to all kinds of music and reading manga and other books; her favorite series is the Harry Potter series. 

I had the honor of interviewing Liang; the following questions and answers give us some insight into her high school career and future plans.

In all four years of high school, what is the one accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Well this is kind of awkward ‘cause it happened in freshman year, but in freshman year, I got first in the district for something called the Congressional Art Competition. Because of that, I got to go to D.C. and attend the ceremony. My work was displayed in one of the halls in the capital and that was really cool. I felt pretty proud of that.

What won you first place in that competition?

It was a portrait of an old man, like pen and ink. ‘Cause it had recently been the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, so I kind of based it off of that concept of a veteran thinking about his past and looking back on his past days.

What year of your high school career was your favorite and why? 

Well this is kind of a bummer because I feel like junior year would’ve been my favorite, but I spent all of it online. So that really sucks because I really liked my classes in junior year the most. I had a bunch of AP classes, but they were all relatively fine. I really liked AP Bio because Mrs. McCaig and Mrs. Sienk [were such fun teachers], but I really wish I had them in person. So I would say theoretically, it would’ve been junior year, but based on the actual experience that I had, it probably is a tie between freshman or sophomore. [The entirety of freshman year was in person], right? And it was the first year of high school; I joined a bunch of clubs, found out which ones I liked, and that was really fun. I met a lot of new people that weren’t from my middle school and that was really fun. And then, sophomore year was kind of the same because now you had a little bit of seniority in clubs. You had your communities that you were getting into the groove of, but unfortunately in sophomore year, there was that transition: just as things were kind of picking up, everyone was excited for end of the year activities and then we went virtual. I would say other than that, I really enjoyed those years.

Success means something different to everyone. What does it mean to you?

To me, I think success means being happy with where you are in life, like you yourself being happy. Like you said, it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some people might find someone successful and someone else might find them unsuccessful, but I think ultimately no one should be allowed to determine that except for yourself. So, really, the only measure of success you have is your own. So, if you feel that you are successful- you like where you are in life- you are happy with who you are, where you are, I think you can say you’re successful. That’s all you need, right?

If you were to talk to yourself from freshman year, what would you tell her?

I would say don’t be scared. High school kind of seems like a big thing ‘cause when you’re in elementary and middle school, they all seem like big kids. I have an older sister who’s five years older than me, so it’s just that range of age where it’s like “Oh! They’re the big kids and you’re the small kids.” But once you get there, you’re just like, no one’s a big kid or a small kid. You’re all just kids. They’re your peers and you can just laugh along with them and have fun with them. We’re all going through a lot of the same things in life. We’re all going through these emotional, social developments, and everyone understands each other more than they think they might.

Oftentimes in the Asian community, our parents hold us up to many different expectations, especially academically. Have you ever felt the need to live up to other people’s expectations? If you have, how did you overcome that?

So, I think I can speak for almost everybody in general when they say they’ve felt some sort of pressure, whether from their parents, or from their peers to [either] achieve academically or socially, or even athletically. I would say I overcame that by just realizing that most of this pressure that’s put on you- it’s kind of a cliche- but it’s because they want what’s best for you. They want you to push yourself to your limits. They want to see you grow as a person or as a friend or as a daughter. So you just need to keep in mind: even if it may feel as though, “If I don’t do this, they won’t like me, or they won’t appreciate me as much,” that’s really not the case. It’s only that they want what’s best for you and to also internalize that. You should also want what’s best for yourself. So it’s sort of having that connection and realizing that it’s not malicious. 

Who inspires you to keep on going? Why?

I would say my sister. Like I said, we have a gap of five years and so, when I was at the end of middle school, she was applying for colleges and getting into colleges. When I started high school, she was going through college. I think that seeing her progress from who she was at the end of high school to where she is now, a year out of college, has just been so inspiring. In her case, she has gone from a more reserved kind of person to someone who has really found her groove, I think. She [has] found her circle of friends, she has gotten a lot more comfortable socially with other people, and I think that just inspires me a lot, that even though it’s the end of high school, it’s not the end of me as a person. I’m going to go to college and there’s still so much to learn and there’s still so much for me to develop personally. That’s just really exciting for me. 

Is there a quote, verse, proverb, or piece of advice that you live by? What is it and why is it significant to you?

I wouldn’t say I live by it, but it is a quote that has stuck in my mind for whatever reason. It goes something like, “Every moment spent being sad is another moment of happiness that you can never get back.” And so, I agree that it’s important to be sad at times and to evaluate your emotions because it’s okay to cry sometimes. It’s okay to let it all out and you should, actually. It’s not good to keep it all bottled up, but it’s also important to realize that- I think that time is the most precious thing you have ‘cause there’s no way to get lost time back- so I think it’s important to keep in mind how precious time is in order for that motivation to pick you up. I can’t just let time go by without doing anything. You have to take initiative. Taking initiative for yourself is the only way that you can get better at what it is you want to get better [at]. I know it’s a lot easier to say these things than to actually do them, but I think that that quote in particular has helped me get into that mindset. 

What are your plans for after high school?

Alright! Plans for after high school! I am planning to go to a four year college and I’m planning to major in something along the lines of game and interactive media. So, I wanna do stuff like background design, environment design, stuff like that. I really liked art all of my life and there was that time where I was like,  “Maybe I should go into STEM,” y’know, ‘cause like art majors don’t make money or whatever, but I kind of just went eh, whatever. I might as well do what I want to do, right? I only have- well I don’t really only have one chance [because] you could change your majors- but going into it, I think I want to at least try pursuing what I know I will like. So yeah, just something in that general field.