Our graduating seniors are facing some of the most important questions and decisions of their young lives. What do I do after I graduate? Do I try to find a job? Do I take a break from school and work and just kick back and relax for a while? Do I go to a vocational school or a college and if so what school or schools should I apply to? Will I get accepted at the school I want to attend?
For Springstead High School senior William An, those questions have already been answered. William applied to five Ivy League universities – Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania and was accepted by all of them. He decided to enter Yale University in the fall.
“I had the opportunity to visit Yale last summer, and it just felt like home. Yale’s commitment to community and family excites me as someone who deeply values their relationships with others. Yale also gave me the perfect balance between having academic freedom and academic structure,” William explained.
An is thinking about majoring in English with a Creative Writing concentration, but he’s open to exploring other options, as well. With his success in creating historical documentary films, he could even consider a career in filmmaking or anything involving his love for history.
William has competed in the History Fair for the past seven years, placing at the local and state levels several times. In 2017, as a freshman at Springstead High School, he produced a film entitled “Tearing Down the Wall of Segregation.” It told the story of a group of students in Clinton, Tennessee who helped desegregate the schools of that town in 1956 (one year before the more well-known Little Rock, Arkansas case). At the time, District Coordinator of the history fair, Suzanne Miranda, stated that the film was “PBS quality.”
Last year, An achieved his dream of making it to the national competition in Washington D.C. with his film entitled “Women in Revolt” which depicted the class action law suit that women staffers at Newsweek Magazine brought against the publication in the 1970’s because of its discrimination against female journalists. Here is the link to this documentary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE44Cq9MGQA&feature=youtu.be
This year, despite the challenges of the coronavirus, he won the outstanding county award at the 2020 state contest, which was conducted virtually, with his documentary about Chinese-Americans in the Mississippi Delta region.
“Although I did not get to do the project how I wanted to since I was in the process of arranging interviews and visits to museums and historical archives that never came to fruition due to COVID-19, I am proud of the work that I did.”
Besides being an avid filmmaker, William enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his friends and family. And, of course, he loves theatre and film. In 2019, his creative writing efforts garnered him a gold medal (the highest rating you can get) for his collection of poetry in the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Contest.
An has also been active in extracurricular activities. He was a member of Key Club, National History Day, Theatre/International Thespian Society, National Honor Society and Academic Team.
William has no illusions that college will be a snap, despite being in the top 1% of his class in terms of Grade Point Average.
“The transition to college can be difficult, but I am really excited to be able to have these new experiences. The hardest part for me will be not being able to see my family every day, but technology has made it much easier to stay in touch these days!”
William’s family consists of his mother, father and younger brother Allan, who is also an accomplished filmmaker.
“My parents have always stressed the importance of doing well academically, but I never felt that they put too much pressure on me. They encouraged me to give it my all and to try my best and I am so thankful for the support they have given me because I know I would not be here today if it were not for my parents.”
Below, is an example of William An’s poetry:
To My Childhood Love
Twenty years have passed since you left
and achieved your dream of going off
to study in the big city. Now, you came back in
your tan suit brighter than the paddy water, progress
against the plaster of the countryside, with
milkmaid's yoke, each side balanced
in perfect recollection of those summer
nights, a distant memory eluded—a drop
in the wind whisked away by tumultuous strange.
Did you come to taunt us? Or to stay? Do you
even know how much can happen in twenty years.
Hair nearing gray, bellies larger. Rice fields turned
inside out. Or how I married a man I didn’t even know.
Wearing that headpiece in ceremony, heavier
than caked mud and manure from the cornfields. I have
to accept fate, mother said. My head, shrouded
with an embroidered red cloth that spells my fate
as I silently whispered thoughts I was not allowed
to have. Tradition she said: stepping on walnuts
entering his home: shattering,
oscillations faltering like my dreams while I try
to hold on to that gift from you: that time
when you taught me how to write my name
in the cold silt by the river.
“To My Childhood Love” is part of a collection of poems, Vignettes of Republican China, that received a National Gold Medal in the 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.