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By Marwan Arafa
Cary High School ‘24

Jordan Huang, a 17-year-old student at East Chapel Hill High School, learned the importance of dedication and perseverance from his family’s history.

“My great-grandfather was a senator in China…,” he said. “So when the communists rolled in, they took over… everything old had to go- post-revolution: out, everyone in power, everyone with money: out.”

His grandfather immigrated and faced struggles in the U.S., where he worked as a cook, making almost nothing in his job, he said. Eventually, he attended college in New York and became an accountant.

His family prejudice targeted towards them, he said: Once, his father’s family once returned from a trip to find racist insults spray-painted all across the family’s house, in large letters.

“(My father) remembers my grandpa just sitting there scrubbing and scrubbing and trying to get rid of those letters, but they never went away,” Huang said. “They kind of always stay as a little bit of a reminder of the fact that his family didn’t really belong in that community.”

His father persevered in achieving the American dream, although he faced cultural pressure as an ethnic Chinese who didn’t fit into his mostly white local community.

Huang’s mother emigrated from Vietnam during the war in the 1970s, and faced her own challenges. Huang is proud of his history and who he is as a person.

“I’m always proud of who I am … Every day I wake up, I wake up in the morning, I’m me, and I’m proud of that, I’m not looking to be anybody else,” Huang said.

At times, Huang said, he still feels out of place, referencing a program he attended recently where the majority of attendees were white and mainly monolithic compared to himself.

He has worked towards making his school more inclusive through means of becoming a student equity ambassador where he gets to meet monthly with his school district’s superintendent and discuss relevant issues such as an existing achievement gap.

As the leader of his school’s DECA club, he is able to create a competitive and welcoming space for all members.

“I always look to represent diversity,” Huang said.

Huang is chapter president of his school’s DECA club and the president of his school’s student government. Being outspoken is an essential trait of leadership, he said, because it allows an individual to connect with others, which then turns into building successful relationships with them.

He credits his gregariousness to his love of literature and writing, as he believes that both writing and speaking go hand in hand, and both lead to good social skills.

Huang understands the need for leaders to show dedication and perseverance. When he was campaigning for his school of 1,700’s student body president, he had to persevere and remain dedicated to the campaign.

“We’re one of the most competitive high schools in the state, period,” Huang said.

Huang recounted how he had to campaign for weeks to get students’ votes by conversing with them and attempting to convince them that he was the best choice for the job.

“Once I have a goal in mind like that, I don’t give up. I’ll keep going.”