Kathelynn Nguyen, left, Justen Hardaway and Finella Chiang led the way at Auburn Mountainview. MARK KLAAS, Auburn Reporter

Compassionate trio shows others the way at Auburn Mountainview | GREAT GRADS ’17

They are respected, widely involved leaders who are considerate of others.

They worked on the same team, shared the same goals and probably spent more time in the classrooms and hallways at Auburn Mountainview High School than they did at home.

School meant that much to them – and they made the most of each opportunity, each day.

Meet Justen Hardaway, Finella Chiang and Kathelynn Nguyen – three of the very best from the departing senior class of 2017.

Different in personality, they brought a similar approach to school: to help others before helping themselves.

“You never know what someone’s going through, so I try to make anyone I see feel special and be kind to them,” said Hardaway, the school’s humble, kind-hearted executive student body president. “By doing that, it just makes me a better person.”

Nguyen and Chiang, both ASB executive officers, championed the rights of others, those shunned, ignored or misunderstood.

“I always try to help and represent people who can’t get their words across genuinely,” Nguyen said, “and I’m always standing up for minorities and the voices that are not represented enough.”

Added Chiang: “I like to put myself in other people’s shoes before jumping to conclusions … accepting of underclassmen, accepting of all students.”

Gifted in academics and solid in the community, each is ready to take on the next challenge. Each is 18 years old, National Honor Society (NHS) students and recipients of Auburn Community Scholarships and other awards. Each participated in a whirlwind of clubs and well-rounded activities.

Hardaway heads to the University of Washington, where he has been accepted into the honors program. Hardaway, a 3.9 student, plans to study biology with hopes of becoming a physical therapist. Hardaway participated in the hurdles and relays at track, sang in th choir and served on the Auburn Junior City Council.

He credits his mother, Cicily, and his late father, Louis, for shaping him into a young man.

“(His death) definitely has made me grow up,” Hardaway said of his father, who succumbed to cancer five years ago.

Hardaway found influential help from Jana Thomas, ASB advisor, and Steven Calhoun, the school’s sports medicine instructor and athletic trainer.

“I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. I had a lot of fun,” Hardaway said of his years at Auburn Mountainview.

Nguyen, a 3.8 student, also is bound for the UW, where she plans to study human-centered design and engineering. She would like to one day be part of a startup company.

Nguyen, the daughter of Thanh Chung and Chuc Nguyen, was a four-year varsity tennis plaer, participated in Lion Crew mentoring and sports medicine, served as Key Club and NHS president, joined the Multi-Cultural Club, practiced the martial arts and worked as a swim instructor.

She draws inspiration and support from her parents, Thomas, and Terri Herren, the school’s principal.

“One word to describe my senior year? Busy,” Nguyen said of the experience. “I’m running around, balancing things and serving many positions. … I’m running around to different corners of the school, doing different things for different people every day.”

Chiang, a 3.7 Running Start student, was a part of Lion Crew, the Multi-Cultural Club, tennis, the NHS and DECA, and served on the Auburn Junior City Council. Chiang, the daughter of Melisa and Chin Chiang, is bound for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., to study nursing with the goal of becoming a pediatrician.

Her family and Thomas are among the many people who made her high school years memorable.

“There’s no words to describe it,” she said. “The Auburn School District has prepared me well.”

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