Harker Heights Top Grads 2019
The top two seniors set to graduate from Harker Heights High School have known each other since elementary school, attended the Texas Bioscience Institute together and value time spent outside the traditional classroom.
Valedictorian Jeesoo Min and salutatorian Rana Radwan have excelled in the competitive arena of academic success and emerged as friends ready for life’s next challenge.
They came at it differently.
Min spent her early years in Korea and learned, along with her family, the English language and the American education system.
Academics has always been important to her, but not at the expense of the rest of life.
“I have a competitive spirit, but I really wasn’t going for No. 1,” she said. “I’ve been well-rounded. I never focused on one area of study and that has given me a good foundation.”
She completed the TBI dual credit program and she’s one of two students who became the first in Killeen ISD history to earn All-State Orchestra honors.
Radwan is also impressively accomplished. She is a state winner in UIL student congress, which mimics legislative debate and also completed the TBI program. She’s also been active in theater the past two years.
As a freshman, the salutatorian said she found out she was ranked No. 10 in her class and at that point began to learn about class ranking and worked diligently on her grades and course choices.
“TBI and debate helped shape me,” Radwan said. “Those experiences put me outside the regular learning environment. I learned how to be a good writer and how to present myself well.”
The experience at TBI, which affected her draw to the STEM fields, also was important in building a peer network throughout Central Texas. “We came from different high schools and worked together.”
Another important growing experience, Radwan said, was diving into theater productions her last two years, what she called an “unconventional challenge outside the normal learning environment.”
The busy, active schedule between Harker Heights and Temple and including extracurricular competition helped the driven student to learn more about herself, test her limits and set boundaries, she said.
“I do a lot with passion and I am a perfectionist,” she said. “I find joy in doing it all well. It does take some will power to continue.” She is headed to Texas A&M University to study biomedical sciences.
Min found out as a freshman that she was ranked third in her class. She bumped up to the top rank her junior year.
Like Radwan, the valedictorian found experiences outside the typical classroom setting important and influential.
As an orchestra student, she performed at the high school graduation ceremonies and the Starmakers banquets that honors the top-10 seniors from all the KISD high schools. Those experiences exposed her to older, high-ranking students and to TBI.
“I met older kids in TBI and saw that it was a great program,” Min said. “I saw it as a great opportunity. I think the isolation helps our focus and the instructors at the college do a great job interacting with students.”
“Being involved in school organizations has allowed me to build a lot of connections and find other people. I love the school community, but honestly, I’m ready to go.”
Following a summer trip to Korea to visit family and friends, Min is headed to the University of Texas at Austin to study electrical and computer engineering. She is the daughter of Hae Kyung Kim and Robb Kubiak-Cherkaski.
Harker Heights High School graduation is 3 p.m. Saturday, June 1 at the Bell County Expo Center.