Yunji (Sun)Sun

Yunji (Sun) manages to live up to her nickname – her smile and laugh are infectious, brightening a room when she enters. Underneath the “sunny” exterior, she is a serious student, just as she was in her home country of South Korea. She shares that she was driven to seek an education in America and to sharpen her English proficiency – sure that it would meet her high expectations and aspirations for success. Sun emphatically states that she knew that she had made the right decision after her first year at Notre Dame.

Sun admits that she is a little shy, and was nervous about making American friends. However, her unwavering determination to integrate into her new school, led her to join the band. She took lessons from Mr. Shimkus, band director, and was soon playing the trombone in the marching band, and in the Christmas and Spring concerts. She also quips that participating in band was a great way to make friends, and is planning to play tennis and join other clubs next year to expand her friendships with American students.

Sun credits her success and love for math this year to the excellent teaching skills of Mrs. Mintzer. She is also grateful for the study skills assistance and encouragement of Mrs. Nicolello, when she was challenged by the sheer volume of information to be learned in each chapter of her Biology text. As she plans to attend college in the U.S. to pursue a degree in Bio-Engineering, she is confident that Mrs. Nicolello’s Biology class has given her a solid foundation.

A recent ski trip to Vermont with her host family was the highlight of her Christmas break. Sun is quick to offer that she has always felt welcomed and appreciated in the home of her host family, and as a proud member of the Notre Dame high school community.


Hanwen (Carl) dreamed of studying abroad for many years as a student growing up in the largest, most populated city in China, Bejing. His desire to engage in diverse cultural experiences and to broaden his academic horizons, peaked when he was a Junior in High School.  His aspirations to study abroad and to achieve academic excellence led him to seek opportunities for study in the United States.  He had worked hard to become proficient in English, a skill that paid off when he applied and interviewed for acceptance into Notre Dame High School.

Carl expresses gratitude for the Notre Dame community, and the support that he has experienced from teachers, staff and students as he learned to navigate the curriculum and engage in extracurricular activities.  He attributes his smooth transition to this kind and ever-present support.  He is equally grateful for the love, care and support of his American host family – he feels their pride in his accomplishments.

Carl’s interest in educating himself about American culture, continued development of his English proficiency, his passion for learning, and his desire to share his knowledge, soon won him recognition on the Speech and Debate team.  In an effort to further enrich his Notre Dame experience, he joined the varsity soccer team, marching band, key club and theatre.  It is important to him that he develops all of his talents for personal growth, and to make positive contributions to the Notre Dame school community he has grown to love and appreciate.

Carl shares that he slowly realized that he has a special interest in the connection between science and religion.  In this regard, his knowledge and his desire to continue exploring possibilities has expanded – with Miss Boccardi’s encouragement and introspective exercises in Theology class, and the relevant and inspirational activities in science classes with Mr. Wakeman.

As his graduation draws near, Carl reflects on the value of his education at Notre Dame.  He plans to study Computer Science at an American university.  One of his (many) goals and intentions when he earns his degree, is to combine his love of music with his future technology expertise to create music apps.