This article was first published in the 2018 issue of Hamptonia.
Kym (Karina) Nguyen landed at New Hampton School ready to take advantage of every opportunity before her. Drawn to the arts and with great enthusiasm for academic challenge, Karina tackled the IB diploma program and dived into the art department offerings. Like Yannik, Karina has her own unique story. Karina is Vietnamese, yet she grew up in the Ukraine. A multi-lingual student, Karina was eager to expand her academic opportunities as much as possible. Working closely with an English Instructor in Kharkiv, she studied English, strengthening her TOEFL as much as possible so that she might then pursue boarding schools in the US. Karina arrived at New Hampton School at the start of her junior year, unlike many of the European students that apply to New Hampton, she was not familiar with the IB prior to learning about our school. However, once she began learning more, she knew the IB was for her and this is part of what drew her into our community. As a diploma candidate, she particularly enjoyed the IB Art course, but in general appreciated the variety and depth of her academic experience.
Karina matriculates at UC Berkeley in the fall where she is planning to study architecture.
What did you do while you were here that you’re most proud of?
I participated in a lot of arts in the school, both visual art and performing art. I learned a lot about stage managing and theater performance. I learned a lot during my English classes by reading various kinds of books. Before New Hampton, I read only classical books but coming here I learned to read contemporary novels and short stories. It was a huge progress for me to study physics and math, too. Here, I learned how all the theories can be applied to practical things in architectural modeling and other subjects.
Is the teaching style different than what you’re used to?
Here, teachers are closer to students and they have more personal relationships with each other because the class size is smaller. In my previous school we had 30 people per class. Here, in math, I have only nine people.
What will you miss the most when you leave?
I think my teachers and my friends. I met so many interesting people from different backgrounds, and I learned so much about Korean culture, Chinese culture, and then I brought my culture, both Vietnamese and Ukrainian. I met life-long friends. Those are my best friends who are going to keep in touch in the future.
You will be attending UC Berkeley. How did you pick that school?
I decided to apply at the very last minute, and then I asked Mrs. Berry,who helped me a lot through this college process. I was not expecting the good news when I opened the email and read, “Congratulations. You got accepted to UC Berkeley!” I had a lot of good options, too. We compared all the schools. Both my parents and I, and Mrs. Berry, agreed that I should go to UC Berkeley.
How do you think being at New Hampton School has prepared you for your next steps?
New Hampton School has significantly prepared me for college life. I’ve learned how to live independently from my parents. You learn how to care for yourself both in housing responsibilities, leadership opportunities, and to advocate for yourself. New Hampton School prepared me both academically as well as professionally for college life. It is such a huge experience that I am now prepared for.
After going to school in the US, will you go back to the Ukraine?
I want to live in the US, but I want to contribute as much as I can to the Ukraine and Vietnam. Those countries, in comparison to the US, are developing and need a lot of help from research. They don’t have as much privilege as here, and here, I have many more opportunities in terms of academics and life.