After spending four years here at MHS and about nine years in America, Ka Wing Cheung is graduating from Malden High School in the top ten of the class of 2017. Cheung is leaving MHS behind and is heading to University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall.
Cheung, originally from Hong Kong, expressed that she was very surprised by her ability to adapt to her surroundings in America because she didn’t expect it to be “similar to Hong Kong.” She explained that in Hong Kong, she “was used to seeing people of different races and colors,” and that it was always comfortable interacting with people different from her.” She lived in Washington when she first came here, and moved to Massachusetts shortly after that. Overall, “coming to America it wasn’t hard for [her],” and seeing a lot of diversity was normal for her.
Many students who come to America feel anxious about the language barrier, but Cheung explains that this wasn’t as much of a problem for her because, “[she learned] a lot of English in the Hong Kong, so learning English here was far from different for her.
During her time at MHS, Cheung became gradually more and more involved within the school. One of the key parts of her high school career was her time spent being a part of the Asian Culture Club, which is a club she joined freshman year. During her freshmen year when she did not know a lot of people and was transitioning from middle school to high school, the club was able to, “[give her] a sense of belonging.” Although the club only has a few events per year, Cheung expressed that, “it does still get the community to come together” and it is “nice to see people learn about [Asian] cultures.”
She explained that although her volunteer time and clubs she joined were very significant, she wishes that “[she] would have gotten involved sooner,” in more areas of the school during her freshman year.
She also became involved in her community through volunteering at the Malden Public Library. During her first years being in America, Cheung felt that the library was always there to help her and “make [her] feel safe”. It was “[relaxed] compared to the busy nature of school work,” so she decided to go back and help the library. While volunteering, she carried out tasks such as organizing books.
One of the interests that Cheung had discovered she wanted to become more serious about during high school was art. Before she moved to America, she expressed that paint was very expensive in China, and the first time she ever painted was when she started taking classes here at MHS. When she started painting, “[she was] so surprised that [she] could actually paint well and that people actually enjoyed [her] work.” She explained that a moment that made her confident in her artwork was when her friend told her that a woman at the Blue and Gold Art Gallery expressed how she “liked [Cheung’s painting]” and that it was significant to her because, “it wasn’t just a teacher or [her peers] saying something nice about her for a change.”
Mary Ann Seager, an art teacher here at MHS, has worked closely with Cheung for the last four years and had her as a student in her Studio 4 class this year, and describes her as “very hardworking and creative.” Seager also explained that Cheung, “always wants to help. She helps other students while still being able to work on her own projects.”
Seager also expressed that she, “wishes for [her] to choose the right people to be around” and that she is going to, “make a good path for her future.” She also explained that she feels that, “[Cheung] will be happy with whatever she finally decides she wants to do” as a career.
Brad Gelling, a math teacher at MHS who has Cheung as a student for AP Calculus, describes Cheung as, “intelligent, kind, patient, and well spoken.” He explained that he got to know her when she was a, “peer tutor in the summer enrichment program,” at MHS. Gelling expressed that he is not sure what he sees as a career for Cheung, but he, “[wishes] for her to best she is a very talented math student to pursue what she loves.”
When she heads to school this fall, Cheung will be majoring in math for her first year at UMass Amherst. She explained that the major is, “just a test because [she is] not sure yet, but [she does] want to minor in history.” Cheung feels that history is something that is “the world shares the same history, even if individual history is different,” and that she likes how, “nothing is new and we can learn from history because it often repeats itself.” She explains that math always came easier to her because, “English is [her] second language, and math is the only thing [she] had in China that [she has] here.” Math is also what she describes as, “universal and is the same for everyone around the world.”