OUTSTANDING ASIAN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES IN THE MADISON AREA
By Jonathan Gramling
Caitlyn Se has added an artistic flair to her scientific drive for academic excellence at Memorial High. Caitlyn was active in the
Art and Animation clubs. She competed in cross country and has been a student activist. During her free time, Caitlyn enjoys
volunteering in the Madison Children’s Museum’s art studio, working on arts and crafts with kids. Caitlyn has won a gold medal
for drawing an illustration in the National Scholastic Art and Writing Contest in 2017 and 2018. Caitlyn will be studying biology at
UW-Madison this fall.
Sitting on the high honor roll with a 4.0 GPA, Ruchi Shah has brought a competitive spirit to her academic game at Memorial
High. Ruchi competed on the girls’ tennis team and on the math team. She worked on the Sword & Shield newspaper and
honed her leadership skills as the secretary of student government. Ruchi served others through the Memorial Student
Support Foundation and Spartan Youth Service. Ruchi had her eye on the health field, being active in Health Occupation
Students of America and putting in around 120 hours volunteering at St. Mary’s Hospital. She also attended the WI Health
Career Camp and was a math instructor for Mathasium. Ruchi’s excellence earned her a UW Health Atrium Clinic
Scholarship, which she will use to study biology at UW-Madison this fall.
A National Honor Society, Michelle Shou has kept her mind on the business of academic excellence at Memorial
High. Michelle competed with Future Business Leaders of America and took first place in accounting and third
in accounting II at the state meet. She was equally competitive in Health Occupation Students of America where
she twice placed first in medical innovations at the state HOSA meet. She also competed in forensics and on
the math team and the tennis team. Michelle was active with the school newspaper and reached out to others
through tutoring and Spartan Youth Service. In her free time, Michelle volunteered at St. Mary’s Hospital and
with the streaming website Viki by providing translations and subtitles. Michelle is a National Merit Scholarship
finalist who will study computer science at Cornell University this fall.
A National Honor Society member, Tuong “Tim” Tran has designed a plan for academic excellence and a college
education at Memorial High. Tim prepared for collegiate life through the UW PEOPLE Program. He was social media
officer for Future Business Leaders of America and placed first in their regional competition. He also enjoyed competing
in Ultimate Frisbee. Tim has been a lifeguard at Parkcrest pool and has volunteered at the Alicia Ashman
Lhaki Tsering charted a straight path to academic excellence during her Memorial High career. Lhaki made
sure she was going to attend college through AVID/TOPS and the UW-Madison Information Technology
Academy. She was also active in Tibet Club and the Mental Health Awareness Club. During the summer,
Lhaki has worked as a MSCR counselor. Lhaki will begin her collegiate career as a Scholar of Promise at
Madison College before transferring to UW-Madison as a PEOPLE Scholar.
Nuchee Vang has lent an artistic flair to her academic excellence at Memorial High. Nuchee prepared for higher education through
the UW PEOPLE Program. She has been highly involved in all things art at Memorial and has led the animation club. She loves
music and performed in the school orchestra for a couple of years. In the community, Nuchee enjoys volunteering with Meals on
Wheels. For her excellence, Nuchee was recognized as an Optimist Student of the Month and was nominated for a Kiwanis award
back in middle school. She will be studying art and psychology at UW-Madison this fall.
A National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society member, Venika Vulpal has used her competitive spirit to rise in the
ranks of academic excellence at Memorial High. Venika placed first at the state Health Occupation Students of America
competition in her event for two years. She placed eighth at the state Future Business Leaders of America competition
and third at regionals. Venika was treasurer of SSF for two years and competed in Science Olympiad. She gave to her
school community through Spartan Youth Service and as a student tutor. She continued her sense of service into the
community, volunteering 289 hours at St. Mary’s Hospital. Venika is a devotee of Bharatanatyam, a form of Indian
Classical Dance and she completed her Arangatram. She received a Wisconsin Young Arts Scholarship to continue her
studies. Venika received AP Scholar and high honors recognitions and is certified in CPR. Vennika will be majoring in
neurobiology on a pre-med track at UW-Madison.
A National Honor Society member, Amanda Yao has been a top academic competitor at Memorial High. Amanda
competed with Future Business Leaders of America and placed first in regionals with Intro to Financial Math,
first in regionals, first at state and tenth nationally with Intro to Business Communications and first at regionals
and at state with Business Communications, which may have been aided by her experience competing in
forensics. Amanda was also active with Health Occupation Students of America and earned first in
Pharmacology at state and second in Behavioral Science. Amanda was also a school tutor and was active in
the Social justice Book Club. Amanda’s interest in medicine was also reflected in her community service,
volunteering at St. Mary’s Hospital and Agrace hospice. Amanda’s excellence earned her AP Scholar with
Distinction and high honors recognition. She is a National Merit Scholarship finalist and a Presidential Scholar
candidate. Amanda will be attending the University of California-Berkeley this fall.
A National Merit Scholarship finalist, Hannah Zhai has been competitive in everything she has tried on her way to academic
excellence. Hannah competed in tennis as well as in the Science Olympiad and on the math team. She has given to others
through Spartan Youth Service and at a local food pantry. Hannah will be graduating with high honors.
MIDDLETON HIGH SCHOOL
Jazmyn Babler has had her designs on a higher education career during her Middleton High days. Jazmyn has been active with
Future Business Leaders of America and took third at regionals as well as at state in graphic design. She has also been the
vice-president of the fashion club and co-captain of the varsity ski team. Jazmyn was active with the Middle East & Asian
Student Union. In her free time, Jazmyn has been a volunteer ski instructor for Black Hawk Ski School and painted a mural for
Paradigm Software Company in Middleton. This fall, Jazmyn will be attending the Rhode Island School of Design.
Jesse Castellanos-Martinez has been in full control of the academic ball during his career at Middleton High. Jesse
competed on the soccer team and received a varsity letter. He also became engaged in the community through Key
Club. The Optimists named him Student of the Month. In his free time, Jesse has been involved at St. Thomas
Aquinas Church and held down a part-time job at the Hubbard Avenue Diner. He has been an assistant basketball
coach for the YMCA and enjoys babysitting for family and friends.
An AP Scholar with Distinction, Ahyun Chung has proven that she will achieve no matter where she is.
Ahyun began her high school career in the Seattle area where she performed with the Bishop Blanchet
and Garfield High orchestras and also competed on the Bishop Blanchet, Garfield and now Middleton
swim teams and received the captain’s award from the Middleton team. Ahyun has also been active with
the Middleton Envirothon Club through which she took 1st place in the state Soil & Land Use competition
in 2018 and 2019. She was also active with the school’s Ecology Club and the Gardening Club. Ahyun
continued to protect the environment out in the community, helping to build a new trail segment for the Ice
Age Trail Alliance and helped out with the Wisconsin Lakeshore Nature Preserve. She has also helped
with Brat Fest in Madison as well as the Loyal Heights Community Center, St. Martin de Porres Shelter,
the Seattle Lake City Food Bank and the BBHS Brave Venture Gala in Seattle. Ahyun was involved with
the Dane County School Consortium Youth Apprenticeship Program focusing on biotechnology from which
she received an award. Ahyun also received awards for AP and Project Lead the Way Student
Achievement in Engineering.
A National Merit Scholarship winner, Meghna Datta has exuded leadership and academic excellence at Middleton High.
Meghna is president and founder of Girl Up, president of the National Honor Society, captain of the speech & debate team,
president of the current events club and a founding member of the student senate. In her free time, Meghna has enjoyed
performing Indian classical dance and with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. She also won soloist awards at the
state solo & ensemble competition. She has also found the time to be the youth newsletter editor for the Hindu Temple of
Wisconsin. An AP Scholar with Distinction, Meghna is a Presidential Scholar candidate and received a tuition remission
scholarship from UW-Madison for music.
A National Honor Society member, Hannah Ernst has had a big heart as she strives for academic excellence at
Middleton High. Hannah has been involved in global outreach, Key Club, Interact Club and link crew. She
competed on the soccer team and was involved in the school’s theater program. In her free time, Hannah worked
in an Appalachia service project, staffed Domestic Abuse Intervention Service’s Taste of Madison booth and
volunteered with Meals on Wheels. Hannah has been on the honor roll and is headed to UW-Madison to study
Noell Jellison has been an academic star at Middleton High as she made great strides for a collegiate
career. Noell was the captain of the varsity track & field team. She honed her leadership skills on the
student council. Noell was a member of the Infinity Martial Arts Team who were junior world gold
medalist winners. Noell made an appearance in the movie Logan. Noell will be competing in track &
field this fall at Hamline University.
Hong Nguyen has approached academic excellence at Middleton High with an international flair. Hong has
made many international friends who have taught her their languages. She now knows over three
languages. Hong also performed in a musical concert and volunteered at an elementary school. The next
stage in Hong’s academic career will be at Madison College where she will improve her English before
moving on to UW-Madison or another four-year school
A National Honor Society member, Jessica Kim has been a competitor inside and outside the classroom. Jessica competed on
the swim team and the forensics team and placed second at the state forensics tournament in oral interpretation of literature.
Jessica also got involved in theater, developed her leadership skills on the student council and worked for a healthier world
on the envirothon team and Ecology Club. Jessica helped organize the school blood drive, was a Middleton Sustainability
Committee representative, represented on a Dane County food council and served in a youth governance program. Jessica
also squeezed in time to work as a Swim West swimming instructor and volunteered at UW Children’s Hospital and the
Middleton Public Library. Jessica’s excellence has earned her an AP Scholar with Distinction recognition and is a gold finalist
for the Scholastic Arts and Writing contest.
A National Honor Society member, Mia Kim has spoken her academic excellence at Middleton High. Mia has led the
school’s forensics team, competes in congressional debate and radio broadcasting and is a two-time octofinalist at
the state debate tournament. Mia competes in varsity tennis, taking third place in two singles at the Big 8 tournament.
She has also been active with Future Business Leaders of America, earning fourth place in publication design at its
national leadership conference. Mia was also involved in Sexuality and Gender Equity Club. In herr free time, Mia
enjoys doing design work for Blackhawk Church and local businesses. She also does Spanish tutoring. Mia’s
excellence has earned her two gold, keys, three silver keys and seven honorable mentions in the Scholastic Art and
Writing Competition. Did we mention that Mia sits on the honor roll?
Eric Lee has hit the perfect pitch of academic excellence at Middleton High. Eric has performed with the
school’s philomusica and symphony orchestras as well as with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra
and the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra and participated in the WSMA summer music clinic. Eric
competed in state solo and ensemble and was a member of the state honors orchestra. Eric is also an avid
swimmer, competing on the swim team for three years and lifeguarding over the summer. He is a certified
water safety instructor. Eric will be double-majoring in violin performance and pre-med/pharmaceuticals at
A National Merit Scholar Finalist and National Honor Society member, Annie Ma has shown leadership with a flair at Middleton
High. Annie is a founder and officer for the Middle Eastern & Asian Student Union, president of Fashion Club and lead costume
designer for the school theater. In her free time, Annie was a costumes intern for Madison Ballet and Madison Opera. She was a
student artist for the arts and literature exhibition Lab 3. Annie also loves volunteering at Jefferson Senior Living. Annie’s
excellence has earned her second place Congressional Art Award and a silver key and honorable mention from Scholastic Art
Awards. Annie’s career in higher education will be fueled by an Andy Grove Scholarship for Intel Employee’s Children and an
Asian Talent Scholarship from the Madison College of Fine Arts.
Ha Nguyen has enjoyed the academic way at Middleton High. She has enjoyed her teachers and has been active in
sports and art design. Ha has enjoyed volunteering at an elementary school and loves giving presentations about
her native country and culture.
Timothy Zhang has had a design for excellence during his Memorial High career. Timothy competed on the
cross-country and Ultimate Frisbee teams. He worked with the Sword & Shield newspaper and served others
through Spartan Youth Service and volunteered over 230 hours. Timothy is a Boy Scout and earned its highest
rank, Eagle Scout. Timothy will be studying architecture this fall at Iowa State University.
Archer Parkin has made a huge academic splash at Middleton High, perched on the honor roll with a 3.94 GPA. Archer has
taken intermediate geometry and algebra, pre-calculus I and II and physics. He has also taken AP human geography,
chemistry, physics II and calculus AB. Archer competed on the track & field team, but has made his mark on the varsity
boys swim team. He took all-state honors for two years and holds the state record for 200 freestyle relay. He was also
named an All-American in the 200 freestyle relay the past two years. The Middleton team has been state Division 1 runner
up the past two years. Archer can be found during his free time giving lessons to young swimmers and volunteering with
Swim Club-hosted meets. Archer’s excellence earned him a MHS Standard Imaging Scholarship.
A National Honor Society member, Shailaia Singh has been competitive in her search for knowledge and
excellence at Middleton High. Shailaia won over 20 medals at Science Olympiad competitions. She
honed her leadership skills as president or vice-president of Creative Writing Club, Philosophy Club and
Raise Your Voice. Shailaia participated in mock jury and was named best attorney at a scrimmage. She
also competed in JV soccer and was active with Model UN, Politics Club and the Middle East & Asian
Student Union. Shailaia was a Badger Girl’s State delegate and helped out with Planning a Creative
Writing workshop at the Middleton Library. Shailaia won a UnityPoint Meriter scholarship.
Monserrat Medina has proven to be an athletic and academic winner at Sun Prairie High as she transitions to the next
level of her academic career. While preparing for college through AVID, Monserrat competed in tennis and track & field.
She was active with French Club, DECA and Health Occupations Students of America. She honed her leadership skills on
the student council. In her non-school hours, Monserrat was involved with Sacred Heart Church, helped out with the Sun
Prairie Triathlon and volunteered with Tri 4 Schools and the Sunshine Supper Club. Monserrat even held down part-time
jobs at Walgreens and TJ Maxx. Monserrat has sat on the honor roll her entire high school career and was an academic
award winner. Monserrat will begin her collegiate journey at Madison College this fall with an Adopt-A-Future Scholarship
A National Honor Society member, Kailey Sharpe has kept her mind on academic excellence with an international
flair at Sun Prairie High. Kailey competed with the forensics team and was active with Future Business Leaders
of America. She was president of Students for Veterans, shipping CARE packages to them. She competed in JV
golf, freshman softball and freshman volleyball before becoming the KV volleyball manager. In the community,
Kailey volunteered with Love Begins Here and Sunshine Place. She also volunteered in China through Red
Thread. The Sun Prairie Optimists named her Youth of the Month. Kailey has sat on the honor roll and received an
academic achievement award. This fall, she will be studying international business at UW-Milwaukee.
A National Honor Society member, Thejasshri Vembakkam has explored her many talents as well as a
career in medicine during her Sun Prairie High stay. Thejasshri is the DECA vice-president of event
management at her school and has competed on the district, state and international levels. She has
honed her leadership skills on the student council, as junior class vice-president and represented the
school at the National Minority Student Action Network conference twice. She competed on the varsity
girls’ tennis team and won athletic and academic letters. Thejasshri was also active with Health
Occupations Students of America, Future Business Leaders of America, the Principal’s Advisory
Council, forensics and Indian Culture Club. During her free time, Thejasshri volunteered at St. Mary’s
Hospital, tutored elementary school students and co-coached and participated in youth robotics
competitions. She also organized book drives and interned at Farmers Insurance and iStart. For her
excellence, Thejasshri earned a President’s Volunteer Service Award and was named DECAQ’s
member of the year. This fall, Thejasshri will be studying neurobiology at UW-Madison.
A National Honor Society member, Jennifer “Jenny” So has allowed her concern for all living things to guide her in her
pursuit of academic excellence. Jenny has performed with the wind ensemble and served others through Spartan Youth
Service, volunteering at the zoo, animal shelters and other places. Jenny has gone on mission trips and volunteered at a
karate school. For her excellence, Jenny earned Youth for Youth Volunteer of the Year recognition. From the honor rolls,
Jenny will head to UW-Madison to study elementary education
SUN PRAIRIE HIGH SCHOOL
Yating Tian has approached her Middleton High career with a flair for excellence while utilizing
her leadership skills. Yating was secretary of the Fashion Club and president of the Chinese
Culture Club. She has also been a Chinese language tutor and participated in a Harvard summer
school program. Yating did an anti-bias presentation to teachers and participated in an
international fair at an elementary school. Yating was named most creative at the Upcycle
Challenge, received school academic awards the past two years and a special departmental
award in 2019.
Sufei Zhao has been wired into the Internet superhighway while achieving academic excellence at Middleton High. Sufei
is certified in both Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.
LingYun Zhou has been competitive on and off the field while seeking academic excellence at Middleton High. LingYun
is a Mandarin IV language tutor and secretary of the Chinese culture club. He competed on the varsity track & field team
as well as in CYO basketball through Blackhawk Church. This fall, LingYun will be attending the University of Minnesota
in the Twin Cities.