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How SSIS Core Values Empower Seniors for College

How SSIS Core Values Empower Seniors for College
Joshua Simpson

We’re very proud of how our Core Values empower our graduates to do great things after SSIS. So, we talked with five seniors about college and how our Core Values helped them get there.


Russell | The Director | Sense of Self

“Having browsed your impressive film portfolio, Russell, we can see you know what you want to do with your life. Did any particular SSIS Core Value help you on your path to study filmmaking in London?”

“For me, the most important core value is Sense of Self. I think it’s important for everyone to understand themselves and make independent choices about what they want to do in life. Without a good sense of self, I might not have had the confidence to pursue my ambitions.”

“How did your teachers encourage you to pursue your chosen ambitions?”

“Ms. Jardin (in middle school) always supported my ambitions and creativity, even after I moved to high school. I think she could see that I had a keen interest in film and always let me experiment with anything film-related.

Mr. Larson has since been a massive supporter of my film ambitions. In grade 10, he allowed me to dedicate half the year to practicing my technique and building my portfolio in printmaking class, giving me practical film lessons and artistic lens techniques along the way.”

“If you were to make a film about your time at SSIS, how would you imagine it?”

“No immediate titles or storylines come to mind, but it would definitely be a comedy. Many of my high school days have been filled with entertainment and would be fun to watch.”

“What was the most enjoyable part of those high school days, Russell?”

“I’ve been participating in sports at SSIS since middle school. It’s a great way to keep fit, have fun, and be part of a supportive and family-like community.”

“We’re so glad to hear that. Have a great time at the University of West London!”


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Kevin | The Game Designer | Balance in Life

“Kevin, we’re sure you’ll do great studying Game Design at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. Which Core Value do you think will help you the most there?”

“Balance in Life is so important to me. I believe we should spend equal effort in both our academic and personal lives. And while it’s important to focus on yourself every day to grow, I also think it’s equally important to focus on others every day to maintain relationships. This way, we can be both successful and happy.”

“What will being successful and happy look like for you, Kevin?”

“I want to be a renowned art director, working in my family business, producing popular and ambitious video games with breathtaking visuals that will put Vietnam on the radar in the games industry.”

“What made you want to return to Vietnam after university to work in your family business?”

“About 3 or 4 years ago, my dad brought up the idea of me and my brother continuing the family business. He knew I wanted to become a video game artist, and my brother was studying game programming at the time so that we could specialize in both of these essential roles in game development. My brother and I have always been inseparable, so it became a dream of mine to work together with him on an ambitious game.”

“What’s one personal quality you developed at SSIS that will benefit you the most in fulfilling the vision of you and your father?”

“My social abilities. At SSIS, I was encouraged to leave my comfort zone and make new friends, much more than at my old school. SSIS is an American-style school, so we have more opportunities to meet people from other classes. Now I’m more confident that I’ll be able to make friends at university, and even to get my ideas across more clearly with clients in my future job.”

“What will you miss most about SSIS?”

“I’ve made far closer friends during the last two years at SSIS compared to my past ten years at my previous schools. So I will miss all the kinds of unique friends that I’m incredibly grateful for.”

“We’re sure you’ll have no problem making new friends in the UK. Best of luck, Kevin!”


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Cindy | The Designer | Academic Excellence

“Cindy, congratulations on getting accepted to study Interior Design at the renowned Savannah College of Art & Design. How did you manage to achieve so much Academic Excellence?”

“Mr. Larson and Mr. Adona were both really supportive. I would like to especially thank Mr. Larson since I didn't have him as my teacher for the 2nd year, but he still supported me and inspired me to find new ideas for my artwork.

During the university application process, they both encouraged me to do my best with my portfolio, which resulted in me getting into all the colleges that I applied to for Interior Design.”

“What inspired you to take this path, Cindy?”

“I recall a lesson in AP Economics when we talked about the income gap. It really made me think about the situation here in Saigon. People moving into larger cities are forced to live in small houses with really poor living conditions. It really inspired me to choose Interior Design as my major.”

“Did you get many opportunities outside of the classroom to develop the skills you’re going to need?”

“Definitely. Being the Head of Design for Operation Smile helped me to hone many skills. We designed merch and promotional materials, then went on surgical missions, which taught me about children with cleft palates and their difficulties. This motivated me really commit to this after-school club, which felt like a second home to me, and helped me practice my collaborating skills for group projects at college and beyond.”

“Is there a positive change you’d like to make in the world with your major?”

“Yes, I want to give back to the community in Vietnam by improving housing quality and living conditions in government-built houses, which was my original inspiration for taking this major.”

“Well, we’re sure you’ll be well-equipped to do that at the Savannah College of Art and Design!”


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Genki | The Economist | Respect for All

“Genki, I understand that you tried several times to gain admittance to our school. Where did you get your motivation to keep trying to get into SSIS? And was this a good decision for you?”

“Coming to SSIS was a great decision. SSIS fits my learning style as I’ve gotten to participate in many activities and had all the opportunities to learn things I want to do. Not only so, but the people at SSIS were all so nice to me, which led to my motivation in studies and much more.”

“With that in mind, is there a particular Core Value which means a lot to you, as you prepare to go off to Keio University in Japan?”

“It is Respect for All since I believe that if you don’t give respect to people, then you will also not get respect from people. Respecting everyone around me, including friends, family, and teachers, allows me to have good relations and improve myself to a higher level to achieve my ambitions.”

“Did any teachers encourage you to pursue those ambitions?”

“Mr. Stevens, my guidance counselor, helped me out with everything from university research to application essays. While doing so, he gave me a lot of advice on how I should pick my best-fit university.

Mr. Goussard helped me by making our Economics class so fun and interesting. Although I had not taken Economics before 11th grade, I found myself enjoying the subject so much that I wanted to pursue it at university.”

“And once you’re at university in Japan, Genki, what do you think you’ll miss the most about SSIS?”

“I will miss the great friends who helped me with many things and with whom I had so many fun memories. However, I will also miss the great teachers and environment SSIS has provided for me. Going to school every day was a joy for me as every day contained fun and laughter.”

“We hope you continue finding more fun and laughter at Keio University. Good luck, Genki!”


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Seeun | The Inventor | Dedicated Service

“Congratulations, Seeun, on being accepted to study Material Science and Engineering at your dream college, Seoul National University! Did you get many opportunities at SSIS to hone the skills you’ll need for your major?”

“Yes, I had lots of opportunities at SSIS to explore the scientific skills that interested me. For example, at the International School Science Competition (above), which I did throughout every year of High School, we did laser cutting to manufacture working miniature vehicles, and Python coding to engineer programs that estimated the solubility of chemical compounds.”

“Did any of these experiences help you decide your university and major?”

“They all played a part, but most important was the EcoTree project, which inspired me to use my science skills to solve a real-world problem. Using what we’d learned in economics about inequality and sustainability, my group’s concept was to use rice husks for manufacturing bricks, and how that can help developing countries.”

“So, Seeun, how would you like to apply science in the real world?”

“I realize that economic inequality is severe and that providing new technology to developing countries is crucial. So I thought that engineering new materials for developing countries would be a great way to embody Dedicated Service and help those countries to undergo industrial change.”

“Aside from Dedicated Service, are there any other traits you developed at SSIS that will benefit you in the future?”

“Being able to stay committed no matter how difficult the task is. At SSIS, I had the opportunity to join so many competitions and events, so I was often able to take leadership roles. This brought many challenges, but I overcame those challenges, and learned the value of commitment through adversity.”

“With an attitude like that, we’re confident you’ll achieve great things at Seoul National University. All the best, Seeun!”


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Good luck to all of our amazing seniors! We can't wait to see what you all achieve. And remember, 'once a dragon, always a dragon.' You will always be a part of our SSIS community.

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