What it takes: Cobb valedictorians share secrets to success

Now that Cobb County high school seniors are graduating, the class of 2016 is ready for college. Some are headed to Yale, MIT and other prestigious institutions out of state. Others are staying closer to home, attending Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. The graduates featured here have worked hard to achieve academic success. Their academic experience and advice offers a blueprint for younger students. (In some cases, responses were edited for length)

Vanessa Chan

School: Campbell High School

College: Johns Hopkins University

Intended major: Molecular biology

What is the best advice you got about succeeding?

Don't be afraid of failure. My favorite quote to live by is "I never lose. Either I win or I learn". In order to be successful, you have to embrace failure, learn from your experiences, and hustle towards your goals.

What advice would you give to a freshman?

Try different things. Join clubs and sports and constantly be on lookout for opportunities that interest you or that can further your interests. Also, don't be shy, and ask for help when you need it. Find a mentor or an upperclassman to guide you.

Eujin Jang

School:Walton High School 

College: Yale University

Intended major: Math and economics

What is the best advice you got about succeeding?

Find the inner strength within you to keep moving forward especially when it's most difficult, and live each moment to it's fullest. Don't be afraid to ask for help and learn from others.

What advice would you give to a freshman?

Find and pursue activities and subjects that you are genuinely passionate about. Don't let external factors influence who you are and what you strive for. That way, even when the going gets tough, you'll have no regrets because you'll be working towards goals that you truly desire while doing the things that you truly love.

Claudia Quijada

School: Osborne High School

College: Kennesaw State University

Intended major: nursing

What is the best advice you got about succeeding?

The best advice I was given about succeeding did not come in the form of words; rather it was the actions of my parents through their persistence and dedication to work hard no matter the obstacles. Therefore, I internalized that character of always working hard to succeed in life.

What advice would you give to a freshman?

The best advice I would give to the freshmen class is to make the most out of every opportunity given (i.e. School organizations, Honors and AP classes, class presentations, overall participation in class), regardless of how small it is because opportunities may not come often. So take advantage when that time is afforded to you. Also I would suggest this quote by William Shakespeare: “To Thine Own Self Be True.” When you enter a new school, you should be yourself; as a matter of fact, you will be the one everyone remembers because you did not follow others, you made your own path. You should be a leader not a follower because in the future you will be the leader you are bound to be. This is your future, so whatever you aspire to become – Just do it!

Harold Feininger

School: Lassiter High School

College: Georgia Tech

Intended major: chemical engineering 

What is the best advice you got about succeeding?

In order to be successful, you have to always remember to remain confident. If you're not confident in who you are or your ability to complete a certain task, then you will not be able to reach the level of success that you are capable of.

What advice would you give to a freshman?

Never allow stress to overcome your life. If you stress out over every little detail in your life and studies, then you will often miss out on life's beauty and opportunity.

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