If students were judged based solely on their academic achievement, Leena Hwang would immediately shoot to the top of the list. This talented junior is ranked number 1 in her class with a 4.75 G.P.A. and has already earned a score of 34 on the ACT, putting her in the top 1% of students from all over the country. What separates Leena from her peers is not only her academic excellence, but also her commitment to bettering herself outside of school and being a leader for other students, which is why she is this week’s Oswego East co-student athlete of the week.
To say Leena’s schedule is hectic would be an understatement. She takes 4 advanced placement courses, 2 honor courses, is a member of the badminton team, and gets up each morning at 4 A.M. to make it to early morning seminary at 5:30. During the fall semester, Leena participated as a member of the tennis program, while simultaneously playing for the boy’s golf team. Not only did she participate, but she excelled as well. As a member of the boy’s golf team, she earned a right to play in the sectional tournament. As a member of the lady wolves’ tennis team, she earned all-state honors with her doubles partner, Alexis Blackmon. “I make time for social events on the weekend and during the winter, when I’m not participating in a sport,” says Leena.
Leena’s excellence in school helps her excel as both a player and leader for the badminton team. She is currently 12-1 at #1 singles, and has won 1st place in the TF North and DeKalb invite tournaments, defeating multiple state qualifiers along the way. Not only does she succeed, but she manages to lead and help her younger teammates along the way. “She is a leader and someone who our players look up to,” says head badminton coach Marko Jurkovic. Coach Jurkovic goes on to say that “Leena is willing to help with strategies as well as giving technique pointers.”
Leena lists her family members as some of her strongest influences. “My parents are always there for encouragement,” says Leena. “While encouraging me, they are sure not to add any additional pressure. I’m usually harder on myself than anyone else.” If Leena is struggling in athletics or needs any pointers, she need not look any farther than her brother and Oswego East graduate, Austin Hwang. Austin played golf and was a state qualifier for tennis before graduating a year ago.
With her strong academic credentials, Leena will have her choice of the lot as far as colleges are concerned. Her top school is Brigham Young University, which aligns not only with her academic goals, but religious ones as well. Leena really enjoys the social sciences, and plans on studying law at BYU. Her AP U.S. History teacher, Steve Ideran, has taught her for the past two years and can envision Leena having a lot of success in a law discipline. “Leena has the writing ability and critical thinking skills to be an outstanding law student,” says Ideran. He continues by saying, “I've had Leena in both Honors U.S. and AP U.S. History, and have been consistently impressed by her ability to break down and analyze complex ideas and arguments.”Fortunately Oswego East will be able to continue seeing Leena break personal barriers and attaining high levels of success in the classroom for another year. As someone who has already achieved so much, Leena offers advice to current and future wolves saying, “Time management and setting your priorities early will help make the transition from junior high to high school much easier.” says Leena. Most teenagers and adults could use this advice, further proving this bright junior is already wise beyond her years.