Class of ‘15 valedictorian recalls high school memories — and her Falcon love story

September 21, 2022 — by Nidhi Mathihalli and Nikhil Mathihalli
Photo by Ariel Liu
Class of 2015 alumna Sabrina Chen with members of the 2015 Falcon staff and journalism adviser Michael Tyler.
Class of ‘15 alumna Sabrina Chen looks back on her high school academics, while also recognizing how they pale in comparison to the relationships and social experiences that high school gave her.

Class of 2015 alumna Sabrina Chen was the valedictorian for her class — a result of her taking six to seven classes every year, often AP or honors courses. However, school work wasn’t the only thing keeping her busy: Chen juggled a variety of extracurriculars, such as being an editor-in-chief of The Falcon and volunteering at local hospitals, while also staying involved in school events like Homecoming and balancing time with family and friends.

“High school was very much of a sprint — I studied harder than I did in either college or med school, and I was constantly stressed out about applying to college,” Chen said. 

After graduation, Chen attended Johns Hopkins University, double majoring in neuroscience and cellular and molecular biology. In college, Chen’s experience was somewhat similar to that of high school: She continued to work hard while maintaining good grades that would help her when applying to medical school. However, she was also able to find her niche in neuroscience while continuing her passion for journalism.

“[In college] I took all the typical pre-med classes, but also started delving into neuroscience clinical research and was elected a science and technology section editor of the Hopkins newspaper, which kept me busy in my free time,” Chen said.

Chen graduated from Johns Hopkins in 2019 and joined the NYU Grossman School of Medicine that fall. She is currently in her fourth year and in the process of applying for residency in internal medicine with hopes of sub-specializing in allergy, rheumatology or gastroenterology. Her work ethic honed through her years of previous schooling prepared her well for medical school.

However, she believes her biggest takeaways from both college and high school were not the academic accomplishments she achieved, but rather the relationships and experiences she has had.

Recently, Chen got engaged to “the love of [her] life” — a partner she met through The Falcon: class of 2016 alumnus Andrew Jiang, a Falcon sports editor during her time working on The Falcon. 

“I can’t remember some of the classes I took in high school, let alone my GPA, which meant so much to me back then,” Chen said. “What I can remember is sneaking my younger sister off campus for lunch, allowing my now-fiancé to mansplain fantasy football to me during deadline nights and dancing the night away at senior prom with my best friends.”

Chen said that her biggest takeaway from high school and college is that it is OK to take a step back and enjoy life in the present instead of constantly preparing for the future. Over the years, she has realized that not everything in life is about jumping through the next hoop or climbing the ranks of academia.

“It’s taken a long time, but I’ve started to realize that, though rankings and test scores can still supply small doses of short-term pride, my real happiness is derived from those closest to my heart,” Chen said.

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