5 Minutes with Sihan Kwon
Meet one of our graduating seniors, Sihan Kwon. He has an entrepreneurial spirit that is harnessed by an unwavering persistence for success. Sihan attained a near-perfect score in his SAT and shares the journey of what he went through to achieve this accomplishment.
When did you come to ICS?
I came to ICS at the start of my 6th grade year, which would be 2013.
What do you like about ICS?
Because ICS is a small school, it grants students the privilege to be part of a tight community; the teachers focus on individual growth and willingly invest their time to assist in our studies. Furthermore, having a small community facilitates the spread of different cultures, thus giving our school a unique melting-pot culture. Additionally, because ICS has limitations, it has room for innovation. For example, as a high school student, I didn't not feel like I knew enough about the SAT, which is a college entrance exam. I myself did not know what it was until I was in Grade 11. Clearly, something had to be done. So I took this limitation and developed it as an extracurricular activity. I was fortunate enough to get sponsored by an outside organization, and, with the sponsoring, I proposed this extra-curricular activity (ECA) to the school. ICS gladly accepted. Room for innovation like the aforementioned example is what I truly value in ICS. With innovations, students learn valuable communication and leadership skills, and with limitations, ICS challenges its students to step up and lead.
What was your motivation to do well on the SAT and how did you prepare for it?
As I mentioned earlier, I did not know what the SAT was until my junior year of high school. Technically speaking, my first encounter with the SAT happened during the summer break after my sophomore year. During that summer, I went to Korea for a two-month-long SAT prep camp, and it really helped. I started off with a score of 1010 on my PSAT in my 10th grade year, and after the camp, I was able to attain 1400 on my PSAT in my junior year.
I didn't have any grand reason when I studied for the SAT. I only studied because I wanted to thank my parents for sending me to the camp. However, because I am a competitive person in my well-established subjects, I do admit that there was a little bit in me wanting to be the best in my grade, at least on the SAT.
Why did you create the SAT prep ECA?
When I first planned for this ECA, my true motive was to use it on my college application. However, over the course of my planning, especially with the sponsors and the school's support, I began to take greater responsibility. It wasn't like I didn't feel responsible before, but I began to care for this ECA, not just for my college apps, but also for the students.
The process was fairly simple. I managed to find a sponsor from the camp that I had been to, and that sponsor provided textbooks, review notes, and mock tests for the ECA. With the sponsoring, I found a teacher who would supervise my ECA; my next step was to ask the school for permission. I asked the school's activities coordinator and the high school principal for their opinions, and they asked me to write a formal proposal. So I wrote and presented the proposal, which they then approved.
What colleges do you plan to apply to? And what is the application process in general?
I plan to major in business management and entrepreneurship. I have applied to one college so far, and the result comes out on December 17. For various reasons, I will keep my college list confidential.
In general, the college application process is very straightforward. One can apply through two mediums: the Common Application or the Coalition Application. It differs from school to school on what portal to use, but because I used the Common Application, I will only provide information regarding the Common Application.
To use it, a student has to create an account on the Common Application and complete categories such as family, activity list, test scores, and a personal essay. Depending on the school, the student may have to write a supplementary essay. My supplementary essay topic was "What are your academic and intellectual strengths, and how did you come to realize it?".
What was the impact teachers and staff at ICS have had on your academic progress? And how has that fueled your desire for further education?
Teachers at ICS are very approachable. They can take jokes and make jokes, but still act as a teacher. One may say that the comfortable atmosphere distracts students, but in reality, by being approachable, teachers enhance a student's education. We don't have high walls between students and teachers, but do we have fences. We have a boundary that students know not to cross. Traits such as these have invigorated my desire to seek further education.
I heard you also want to do some cool things with your career which were motivated by Week Without Walls (WWW). Please tell us more about that.
The main reason why I want to pursue the entrepreneurial path is because of my passion to serve. I love serving different communities, and I often do that by going on mission trips to developing countries, which WWW is also a part of. As I went on multiple mission trips to the same place, I always receive the impression that no matter how many times I go to serve, the place I am serving will not change easily until the core problem is solved—unemployment. People cannot generate income due to limited education, which leads to unemployment. Micro-insurances provide insurance and loans to the less privileged for their own small businesses. Against one's prejudice, claim and default ratios are far lower than commercial insurance or banking. Throughout my college years, I want to explore my passion for my own micro-insurance social enterprise in pursuit of educating the uneducated.