There is nothing world shattering about being a Valedictorian

Have you ever wondered what happened to school Valedictorians later in life?

Well, research shows, not much.

It makes sense. Being a Valedictorian is about order. It is about diligence, and a great ability to follow rules. It is about sticking to the tried and true, and following the safest path. While that path will definitely lead to various modes of success, these traits that make Valedictorians who they are are not the traits of “visionaries.” Not the traits of risk seekers, of those who have enough confidence to venture out on their own.

The average GPA of 700+ millionaires who participated in the study averaged a GPA of 2.9. College GPA and future subsequent success have no correlation to one’s college GPA.

Coming from someone who graduated with a 3.7 in high school AND college – and with the distinction of my department’s class marshal, this research is extremely… bittersweet. As a first generation American, and the first in my family to graduate college, school was all I had been trained for.

Countless hours poured over studying, at the instance of my mother. Eventually, though, my desire for academic achievement was driven nothing but my own discipline and momentum. Now that I’ve been out of college for six months, I realized that perhaps my pursuit and priorities were… not in the exact order.

One thing I wished I spent more time in college doing was spending time developing myself personally and spiritually. I wished I spent more time hanging out with friends, taking a few exercise classes at the gym (they were free!), and enjoying my college experience.



The 2017 Change

2016 has been apparently a big year for the world. The Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, the UK voted to leave the EU, and Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States.

In 2017, I got a full time job as a Project Engineer – an entry level position – at a construction consultancy. However, there are some goals I want to accomplish this year that I feel will lead me to more personal growth

1. Workout more

Getting back into the mindset is extremely difficult. After being on my feet 8-10 hours a day at work walking the field, running around, I am exhausted. And more than not, I’ve succumbed to the mindset of, “Not today – just too tired. Maybe tomorrow.” To me that has to stop now. It’s a Catch 22. I feel awful because I am not working out and I am not working out because I feel awful.

I want to look better, more full figured – not the body type of a stick 😦 And I want a stronger immune system.

I want to get my eczema under control too.

2. Be more present in the present

This year, I am making a vow to be more in the present, of being less distracted with my “phone” and being more present for person to person conversations.

3. Be more productive 

I want to be more productive. Learn more skills. Watch less TV. Stop browsing the internet so mindlessly. Be more engaged in the type of work I am doing, and consistently pushing myself to be better.

After college, I had big plans. Like “oh, I’ll do this and this after college when I have more time.” Senior year beat my ass. However, that is not a good way to think about things because our lives will always be filled with so many various activities – if not this, it’ll be that. So we can only work to be the best version of ourselves.

Counting Blessings

After 4 (and 1/2) years of school, guess who can say she graduated college!!


That’s me 🙂 In 10, 20, 40 years, I have no idea where I’ll be with a Bachelors of Environmental Design degree… but hey, I’ve learned to live life in the moment. It’s hard to predict the speed at which society is changing… technology will change… people will change… values will change. The point is, nothing will stay the same, so for me, it is difficult to say with absolutely certainty that “I will become an architect” or “I will do ________.”

I like to think I am open minded about these things, but flexibility can be mistaken for lost, as some may view me as not having any defined, really clear goals. However, I do have a purpose, and my purpose is this: to live the life I want to live, to put my soul into everything I set my mind to, to always be improving, bettering myself, pushing myself to my limits, and discovering what, and all that I can be capable of.

I can say with absolute certainty that I am so so so extremelyt fortunate to say I’ve graduated college with no debt. Looking back at my decision, I do not regret it one bit. Hawaii is a small place, and many who’ve grown up here all their lives want to explore adventures elsewhere. I was one of those kids. Senior year of high school – even freshmen year of college – I yearned to experience the “mainland college experience” many of my friends got to experience.

In the end, I chose to attend my public state school due to financial reasons, and I opened my heart to give the school another chance. I am so glad I did, because I would have never otherwise met the incredible people I did.




All journeys start with a purpose, and many purposes inevitably change with time. Once many moons ago, I started on a journey to become an engineer, and came out with a background in architecture.

Idea: Curriculum is More Important than School Rank

When I was a senior in high school, I was so so so obsessed with the idea of school rank. I thought the rank of my choice of school was a testament to how smart I was, and how much potential I had in life. Upon further reflection, I realize how naive that assumption is. A school rank is merely just a number of how well certain jurors felt it ranked based on a list of criteria. It satisfies the needs of parents and students alike and gives them a sense of what they “should” desire.

More importantly, I think, is the idea that the curriculum of a school is more important than the prestige that is associated with a certain school name. The curriculum of a school will invariably shape the character, beliefs, and ideologies of the student.

I am seeing this now more than ever, especially in schools of architecture that have had influences from  very influential figure(s) during its history. The three most prominent examples that come to mind are Auburn University’s Rural Studio, Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, and Mies van der Rohe’s Illinois Institute of Technology.

Therefore, this is a statement and a wish for myself, and for others, when deciding whether to attend or enroll in a certain school, be sure to check its syllabus and curriculum to decide if the mandatory and supplemental courses offered are in line with what you perceive is required or helpful to succeed in the 21st century.

Taking a Leap of Faith

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to say I am thankful for many things, among of which are:

  1. the health of my parents
  2. the health of Kevin
  3. being able to attend college (graduating Dec. 2016!!)
  4. having a job I love

Number 4 brings me to another point about risk. I was recently informed that my current employer is not looking to hire any additional employees until more projects come in. I was hired on as an hourly employee, and was interested in staying with my current employer and being brought on as a full time salaried employee after graduation.

I understand this is a financial decision for the company. As an hourly employee, I will be making $20 x 40 x 52= $41,600/year, but the hope is that new projects will be brought in early 2017, so I will only have to stay on as an hourly employee for 2 months longer. However, because these projects are still in the air with no contract signed, I feel that it will be a considerable risk I will be taking, as other companies are looking to hire now.

What if these projects do not materialize? I am still considering all my options. The only thing I can say for sure is that I really enjoyed my time at the company.


Community vs. NIMBY-ism

I tend to shy away from politically-charged opinions, but after seeing a post on my Facebook newsfeed recently, I felt so passionate about this topic that I thought I should write this down so I can have a memory and record of my political beliefs at 22. It might be interesting to see how it can change when I’m 32, or 42, or 62.

In short, there is a Facebook group called My Kailua, which is run by residents of this small, beach town with high property values. This FB group purports to be about touting community, but IN MY OPINION, it is one of the most exclusive groups meant to hate on “non-locals” for commercializing “THEIR” town! They hate on every single media mention of Kailua because many of the members of that Facebook group think it will destroy “their” Kailua – evident by their use of “MY Kailua.” Of course, the group is sometimes used as a medium to report community news, like missing persons or items. However, generally, the posts expressing the opinions of their founders are very negative of the ‘paradise’ attention that THEIR Kailua is getting.

This was the post which I saw, which is really the reason of this post:

Word for word:

The Branding & Marketing of My Kailua 👎

Jesssica lost 38lbs, Eric lost 39lbs… And we’ve lost our sense of community thanks to the commercialization and exploitation of our residential family neighborhoods. 

And all I can say, is really? Keep in mind that this weight loss ad has NO mention of the place where it was filmed. And so, it begs the question, why so much hate? The founder of the group is, well, ethnically white. So to him, what is “local”? His ancestors who ultimately lived in Kailua before him were, to what extent, “local”? Because in Hawaii, the only true “locals” were the Native Hawaiians.

And how long can you preserve this closed-minded idea of WHO Kailua should be for? Though your neighborhood is a “beach”, it is a PUBLIC beach. I do not see any “aloha” in that group, except toward other Kailua residents.

Lastly, just as those founders are expressing their freedom of speech, I am as well.

22, and starting over again

A little over a week ago, I turned 22! This year has been so wonderful to me in so many ways, and I am so so grateful for all that I’ve experienced this year. On my birthday, we went to see a Star Trek Symphony Concert. Student tickets were only $13/each compared to the $50+ of regular admission, and we sat about 7 rows from the stage.

This year, Kevin bought me a new laptop (birthday AND Christmas present, he says). I love it so much! I’ve been doing arch school with my 13″ 2012 MacBook Pro on Bootcamp, and then one day, the Windows partition got corrupted and I couldn’t access any files 😦 Instead of spending more time uninstalling and installing Bootcamp (the first time around took a long time), I decided to just get a new computer. That weekend, at Sam’s Club, we saw a Dell Inspiron 15, 15.6″ for $800 and just bit the bullet… I can’t believe how much more comfortable it is for the eyes to have a bigger screen!

Secondly, although at the start of the new year, I made plans to get stronger, that goal took a backseat to the hectic architecture school life. I’ve been away from the gym for so so so long 😦 I went back the other day, and it was SO hard. Squatting 95 lbs and just benching the bar was a challenge… However, after this, I still feel so hopeful that I can one day achieve the numbers I want.

I officially have 5 more week of school – and then after that, I will be finished with college! Yay!! College took me 4.5 years, and I cannot believe how many opportunities I got to experience. I will be the first in my family to get a college degree – and I am so excited to whatever adventures happens my way after this. I already have a big list ready 🙂



Why do I keep making mistakes at work?

I am writing this down so I can recognize and realize that this is becoming a problem for me. I keep making mistakes at work, like sending incomplete reports or sending reports with typos. Or emails with typos. My work is filled with errors here and there, but I want to get better. I do not know if it is because I am distracted. If I am, how can I be better? I am still working out a process for myself, but admittance is the first step to recovery.

Things I got from learning piano as an adult

As of September 2, 2016, I am 21 years old, which some may argue is not reeeaalllly an “adult” – I’m still sheltered away in university, after all. But since the law here in the U.S recognizes that the legal age is 18, and even bars will let me in, I’ll just call myself an adult… Indeed, I am older than the general audience of first time piano learners (who are around 5-10 years old), and all the piano method books consider a person my age as an adult.

I’ve never had the opportunity to learn the piano as a child, but I’ve always been interested in picking up an instrument. So, in my final semester of college, I enrolled in a Beginner’s Piano course. We are using Faber and Faber’s One-in-One Piano Adventures Book 1. So far, I have been enjoying it a lot. I realized piano is an instrument that is extremely hard to pick up on your own, so when the semester ends, I plan to look into enrolling with a teacher to continue to develop this hobby!

In the meantime, I’ve also picked up a Piano Scales and Chord Book 1 from the same publisher. It isn’t required for our class, but I hope that I can pick up on some things!

Goals are always important, so here are mine, for learning to play the piano:

  1. Use piano to develop good habits, like patience and gritPiano is one of those instruments that can’t be learned in a 3 hour sitting, if anything, a 3 hour sitting of piano is too long!
  2. Learn consistency of practice and training. Piano can be practiced for as little as 30 minutes/day. In piano pedagogy, more frequent, shorter intervals are actually more ideal since the brain needs time to learn new material.
  3. Learn to improvise. I recognize the importance of knowing how to read notes, but to me, an equally important skill would be learning how to improvise. Mistakes happen, and the only way is to move on. In piano, if you make a mistake, it would actually be more noticeable if you backtracked! So, we just have to keep going, and improvise.
  4. Learn to play by ear. I would love to be able to play a short tune without having a full sheet music in front of me 🙂

And that’s it, I just wanted to share my piano learning with y’all.

Thanks for reading! xoxo