One Story: Minnie Jang

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Senior Minnie Jang has a system for applying to schools that has worked quite well for her. Essentially, it boils down to this: You pick the school you want to go to… and apply. That’s it. No second, third, or fourth choice. No back up plan. No safe bets. Just go for it. That’s what she did for high school. She knew she wanted to go to NDP so that’s where she applied and that’s where she got in. Technically, she filled out an application to another private school in the area, but she never actually mailed it soooo…

Notre Dame is what she wanted. Notre Dame is what she got. She has loved every minute here and has never looked back. As far as she is concerned, “NDP is where she is supposed to be.” So when it came time to apply to college this past year, Minnie employed that same keep-it-simple, cut-to-the-chase, clear thinking in her process. Why waste time and money filling out all those tedious college aps when she already knew the one and only school she wanted to attend? The fact that you and I can think of quite a few reasons why seems to be beside the point. Never mind your arguments about the astronomical cost of college today, with or without a scholarship. Or the ferocious competition to be accepted anywhere. I mean, it’s not like Minnie had her heart set on Harvard or anything. Harvard-logo-1  Wait. No. Wait a minute. Actually…she did. That’s exactly where Minnie wanted to go. Harvard. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Minnie isn’t smart as a whip. She is. But she’d have to have a very nearly perfect 2400 SAT score to get into Harvard and… oh, yeah. That’s right. She pretty much did. But, I mean, still… we’re talking Harvard!  She’d also have to be accomplished and engaged and participate in quite a few activities to stand out among the competition. And she couldn’t possibly find time for all that. Not with all the studying she must have had to do to get that very nearly perfect SAT score. Wait. What? She did find time? She was engaged? Yup. In two or ten things like: Speech and Debate, Orchestra, playing the violin, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), the Golf Team, the Honor Board, and 4 or 5 honor societies. Not to mention starting a non-profit with her oncologist Mom (more of that later). Just to name a few. And the thing is, Minnie had spent her summer after sophomore year in school at Harvard where she took courses in writing and neurobiology, explored the town of Cambridge and the Harvard campus…and promptly fell in love with the place. Ever since then, she’s had her heart set on going there for college. So, when it came time, that’s where she applied. And to no one’s real surprise, Minnie was accepted. Note to others: Don’t try this at home. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

There is something else, however, that drives Minnie. Not just regarding her decisions about school, but everything.

“Passion,” Minnie explained. “I think when your heart’s really in something, when you give 110%, you just achieve more.” And there is a lot Minnie is passionate about.

Minnie in Harvard crimson
Minnie in Harvard crimson

“I have a real enthusiasm and appreciation for tradition. Notre Dame offered me that and opened my eyes to the importance of such things. It was never important to me before, but now I’m obsessed with it. I love the community and feelings of sisterhood here. And I value Notre Dame’s traditions because they are common experiences everyone shares and help make a community stronger. I like that.” When pressed further, Minnie added, “I like the idea of celebrating and honoring the past, which, in turn, helps secure the future. I get that now. And that same sensibility is a huge part of the appeal of Harvard,” she concluded.


Minnie's acceptance certificate
Minnie’s acceptance certificate

“There’s something else that I’m passionate about. Something Notre Dame really introduced me to and which they stress in their mission statement. And that’s service. I talked a lot about that in my college essay. NDP talks about becoming women who will transform the world. The implication is that we’ll do it through service. So I realize that success has to be measured by the number of people you effect positively and on a daily basis.”

Wow! No wonder Harvard said “Yes!” Who wouldn’t? Minnie chooses to serve others in a variety of ways. Through NDP she volunteers as a classroom assistant and tutor at an inner city school. She has also travelled with other NDP students to El Salvador for cultural exchange and volunteer work in the mountain villages. Perhaps her greatest passion is the non-profit she started and helps run with her mother called Caps of Love.

“Caps of Love is a non-profit which benefits breast cancer victims. There is a cutting edge device – a cap – which fits on the head and saves a woman’s hair from falling out. One cap is very expensive and most patients can’t afford them. But they do so much for a breast cancer victim’s morale and well-being while she’s undergoing chemo. My mother is an oncologist specializing in breast cancer and she is so good at what she does. She really believes in the project and her patients. When I watch her, I witness such connectivity. It’s really moving. And I just wanted to help her help them.” So, together with her mother, Minnie has designed a website,, organized and run fundraisers, and raised awareness about breast cancer and the benefit of Caps of Love. Her mother’s medical career and dedication and NDP’s emphasis on service, have carefully guided Minnie towards what she thinks may be a career in Public Health Policy. Time will tell. She will have 4 exciting years at Harvard – the school she fell in love with – to decide. It’s no wonder the love was reciprocated. Minnie thinks it was her emphasis on ‘passion’ in her Harvard essay that may have won them over. I’d quibble with that. My guess is… it’s her compassion. Either way, they’re lucky to have her.


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