Student stokes family pride with full ride to Harvard

Cindy Kang, 19, is fulfilling the dreams her parents had when they immigrated here from Korea seven years ago.

  • Friday, June 13, 2008 12:01pm
  • News

Cindy Kang, 19, is fulfilling the dreams her parents had when they immigrated here from Korea seven years ago.

Kang, a senior who will graduate from Decatur High School on June 8, earned admission and a full four-year scholarship to Harvard University, where she will begin classes in the fall.

“It was my dream school, but I never thought I’d be able to get in,” Kang said. “I was so surprised at first. I didn’t believe it.”

When she first learned she was accepted to Harvard, Kang thought it was a practical joke. It was April Fool’s Day, after all. She was getting her hair done and while at the salon, she asked her friend Jasleen to check her e-mail for a letter from Harvard. Jasleen delivered the news — there was an acceptance letter from the Ivy League school in Kang’s inbox.

“I had to rush out of the hair salon to get home and check my e-mail,” Kang said.

Sure enough, the letter from Harvard was there.

“I was just frozen at my computer and my mom was crying, but I couldn’t think,” she said.

Kang always knew she wanted to get into a prestigious college. She took several Advanced Placement courses and passed the tests. She thinks that Harvard accepted her because of her math skills and her involvement in extracurricular activities. During high school, Kang participated in drill team, varsity tennis, math team, Key Club and Advancing Youth Leadership. She estimates she did at least three hours of homework each night. She will graduate with a 3.91 grade point average.

Kang is also a national math champion. She has participated in math teams and contests with the Korean American Scientists and Engineers Association since fifth grade. This year she took first place. She also took 18th place in a national contest that was open to all U.S. students.

Kang said she is sad to leave behind her high school friends and her family, but she is excited about the independence and challenges she will have at the college in Massachusetts.

“I’m nervous because their academic program is really rigorous, but just the change itself is going to be really big, I think,” she said.

This will be Kang’s first time away from home. She hopes to get a roommate she will get along with.

“I just want someone who’s not so messy but not so neat because I want to be able to keep up with it, and I don’t want to make her mad,” she said.

At Harvard, Kang plans to earn a double major in applied math and economics — and dreams of someday working on Wall Street.

Contact Margo Hoffman: or (253) 925-5565.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

7 school security cameras spray painted | Police blotter

Following is a sample from the Federal Way police log Oct. 21-26.

Photo courtesy of South King Fire
Operation Warm provides winter coats to 320 Federal Way kids

Federal Way Public Schools partnered with SKFR, Local IAFF 2024, the Aid Fund and the South King Firefighters Foundation to host the eighth annual two-day event.

The Federal Way Police Department received two fundraising awards from Special Olympics Washington on Monday, Oct. 26. Courtesy photo
Federal Way Police Department receives 2 fundraising awards from Special Olympics Washington

Department received 2019 Circle of Honor fundraising plaque and a Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) torch award on Oct. 26.

Aaron Kunkler/staff photoAlvin Sweet is a resident of Martin Court in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Martin Court is a former motel which was transformed into a supportive housing complex two decades ago. New funding from King County’s Health through Housing ordinance could expand this type of program across the county.
King County wants to buy motels for emergency, affordable housing

The concept has proven results in addressing homelessness.

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

Jeanne Burbidge poses with her Help, Hope, Change award. Courtesy photo
First-ever virtual luncheon raises $85,000 for Federal Way’s Multi-Service Center

Jeanne Burbidge was awarded MSC’s second-annual Help, Hope, Change award.

Haley Donwerth/staff photoThe Barco family returns to their Des Moines home for the first time since Bernardo, front, lost his left leg and right arm in a motorcycle crash in December 2018. The Federal Way Mirror’s report on Bernardo Barco’s recovery was honored with a first place award for general feature by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2020 Better Newspaper Contest.
Federal Way Mirror earns 7 awards in WNPA’s 2020 Better Newspaper Contest

The Federal Way Mirror’s news team won seven awards in multiple categories… Continue reading

Actors Tom Livingston, left, and Jacob Tice rehearse a scene from Theatre Magic. Courtesy photo
Centerstage Theatre hosts first production of the season

Theatre Magic (And Other Things We Need) premieres Sunday, Oct. 25.

Virginia Mason is hosting its third annual Drug Take Back Event at the Federal Way regional medical center (33501 First Way S.) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24.
Pandemic has increased risk for abuse of unused, expired medications

Community encouraged to participate in Drug Take Back Oct. 24

Most Read