Ask any group of people, and chances are, every single person will have a different interpretation of the word “excellence.” Over the course of my life thus far, I have heard countless interpretations of what it means to be excellent or to seek excellence. Often I hear that seeking excellence involves somehow surpassing other people in a competitive process, or having uncanny talent or ability. Yet through my experiences over the past six years as a student at Dwight-Englewood, I have come with my own interpretation for seeking excellence: to have the resolve to grow not only my own knowledge and curiosity, but also to cultivate the same spirit within others and to raise the standard of what we can accomplish together.
I can say with certainty that teaching and mentoring others, whether on purely academic matters, robotics, or creative writing, has been one of the most meaningful experiences in my life. Prior to Upper School, I had not expected that I would enjoy teaching. However, as I became increasingly involved with D-E’s varsity robotics team, Critical Mass, I started teaching younger students both at D-E and at other schools about robotics and STEM as part of our community outreach initiatives. I extended the same energy to mentoring people in creative writing as well.
For me, the allure of teaching comes from knowing that my efforts could inspire others to discover or create new things. Perhaps they too will teach and mentor other people. I like to think that even if I had only inspired two people over the last few years, both of them will eventually inspire other people, and the process will continue forward— an exponentially growing network fanning out to include more and more people. Who knows how far it will stretch in the future?
But for now, as I finish my career at Dwight-Englewood, I hope to pass on this same spirit to younger students. And as I go to college and beyond, I will stay true to the idea that seeking excellence is not an action that is solely bound to my aspirations and achievements, but to those of others as well.
Kenneth Yan ’19 (above) with Head of School Dr. De Jarnett at a robotics meet earlier this year.