Caren Koh

Senior to attend Harvard


Senior Caren Koh was accepted to Harvard and Stanford University. She will be attending Harvard because she applied under the Early Action program. “I am planning on going to medical school to become a doctor,” Koh said.

Yoonsoo (Seth) Choi, Staff Writer

Senior Caren Koh opens two college admissions letters from Stanford and Harvard. She stares in disbelief as streamers fill her screen. In shock, she re-reads the first line, which says “Congratulations you have been accepted” and runs to her mom to tell her the good news. 

Koh will be attending Harvard University in the fall and will be dual-majoring in pre-med and English or another major in the humanities field. 

“I visited the east coast and colleges over there before my senior year,” Koh said. “I really liked it, so I decided to go EA (early action) Harvard after that. The application process made me want to get in even more. When you apply, you put your heart into the application and you get invested in it. I had the most wonderful interview ever and that got me attached. I am planning on going to medical school and becoming a doctor. I knew I wanted to do something in the humanities because if I am going to be studying so much science and healthcare, I wanted to balance it out with something on the other side of the spectrum. I still really enjoy reading and analysis. I believe that if I round out my education and learn how to connect with words and people it will make me a better doctor.” 

Recovering from her ACL injury from Taekwondo, Koh realized her dream to become an orthopedist. Koh is an eight-time Taekwondo world champion in traditional forms, traditional sparring, creative forms, creative weapons, extreme forms, and extreme weapons. 

“Taekwondo was such a big part of my life that suddenly I couldn’t do anything more, it was miserable,” Koh said. “The ACL reconstruction process is crude in the fact that you are literally ripping off another tendon and shoving it through your knee bone and making it become a new ligament. There is research in play right now to make that better and find a new method and that really interested me. I want to become an orthopedist because my knees still hurt and I want to know why and learn how this happens to people and what we can do about it.” 

To pursue her dream, Koh competed in the HOSA sports medicine event and placed 5th at the state competition last year. This year, she won the area competition but was unable to compete at the state competition because of its cancellation due to the Coronavirus. 

“It gave me access to a lot more knowledge,” Koh said. “It helped me apply that in real life. One of the skills last year was testing the range of motion, and I tested the range of motion of the shoulder on my friend, and I realized something was up. He went to the doctor, and it turns out he dislocated it. At the same time, I was interning at a physical therapy place. HOSA gave me an outlet and opportunities.”

Koh also competed in Speech and won second place at the state competition last year for prose interpretation. This year she served as captain of the speech team.

“It helped me a lot with my speaking abilities,” Koh said. “It would help me as an English major because you have to find mood, tone, and author’s intent. I hope I set a good example for the people that want to step up to become the next leaders.”

As a National Honor Society officer, Koh sought to initiate reforms in management and community service projects.

“We faced a lot of backlash,” Koh said. “I’m happy knowing as long as we’re trying our best, pushing things forward, and coming up with new ideas, whatever other people say doesn’t matter. We’ve come up with more community service events, planned more things, and we’re working to make things better in the future. We have been hosting Zoom meetings every week, so we’re still working hard. We’re trying to bring the NHS community back into community service. We had a parent’s night out and everyone who volunteered really enjoyed that and we want to do more after meeting volunteering events.”

In addition, she was the president of the Cougar Band Council and played the saxophone in Wind Ensemble and marching band. This year’s marching band show was “Ascendance.” 

“I cried after the end of the show,” Koh said. “You meet so many people each year since you have 300 people in the band at one time. You create a sense of community.” 

Koh excelled academically as well, ranking in the top 10 for her GPA and being selected as a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship for her PSAT score. 

“My mom has always wanted to sit on the top row for Top 10,” Koh said. “She’s been really excited about that, so it will really suck if I worked so hard and accomplished all these things and she won’t be able to do that.”

The graduation was set for May 16, however, the ceremony has been postponed until June 20 due to pandemic restrictions through the month of May. 

“I’m crossing my fingers that June happens,” Koh said.