When James chose to complete his final three years of high school at Shawnigan, he saw the School as a place where he could continue to develop as an athlete while maintaining his high academic standards. What he found here not only transcended this goal but also led to a fundamental shift in his perspective and his passions.
Growing up as a keen hockey player and athlete in Victoria, James was excited to pursue sporting excellence at Shawnigan. He counts wins at the CSSHL varsity championships and the junior boys rugby provincial championships as two of his most memorable athletic achievements at Shawnigan. However, alongside these athletic victories stand an impressive array of academic and leadership successes, including selection as Academic Prefect, Head of House for Copeman’s and the 2017-18 Jason Yosung Park Scholarship recipient, that perhaps better reflect the mentor that James has evolved into and the life he hopes to pursue.
“It’s crazy how your perception can change as you get older,” he says. “I used to have this incredible passion for athletics. I was good at school but would always rather have been doing something with sports. Now my focus has completely shifted.”
Receiving the 2017-18 Jason Yosung Park Scholarship has had the most significant impact on James of all of these honours. The award recognizes a student who embodies the same kind of qualities and values that Shawnigan alumnus Jason Park did, including high performance in academics and athletics, a loyal and steadfast nature, an unerring respect for others, and an unwavering adherence to a strong moral compass. It is these values that Shawnigan strives to instill in each and every one of its students, a mission that Jason’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Park, have recognized in their generous establishment of this memorial scholarship.
The Jason Yosung Park Scholarship is not simply about financial support; it is about connection, mutual understanding and gratitude. The scholarship year culminates in a visit to South Korea where the recipient is warmly welcomed into the Park family home. James spent the first week of Spring Break staying with the Park family at their home in Seoul, an experience that took him well beyond the familiar acres of Shawnigan’s campus and immersed him in a wholly different culture.
“It was my first time travelling to Asia and it was absolutely amazing,” he recounts. “The Parks said ‘We don’t want you to just tour Korea, we want to educate you about Korea.’ And I loved that.”
His itinerary covered experiences as diverse as visits to Korea’s demilitarized zone, the Prime Philharmonic Orchestra, the bustling city of Busan and Gyeongbokgung Palace. In addition to this rich cultural exposure, he spent memorable and meaningful time with Mr. and Mrs. Park, building on the relationship he had begun to develop with them last summer.
“This award means so much to them,” he reflects. “I didn’t realize how much it meant to them until I was actually there. They treated me as if I was their son. I can’t express how thankful I am to them, not only for giving me this opportunity, but for opening my eyes to an experience that has changed my life. All the recipients say that, but you don’t truly understand until you go and experience it for yourself.”
It is with these newly widened horizons ahead of him that James will be stepping out into the world when he graduates this June. His goal is to pursue a Bachelor in Health Sciences with a biomedical sciences major before going onto medical school. After having the opportunity to attend a retreat at the BC Cancer Agency last year, he hopes to make oncology his specialism. With five university acceptances waiting, the next step is entirely his choice.
While he’s still weighing the pros and cons of each of these university options, what is certain is that James’s goal-oriented mindset, his respect for others and his strong sense of self will keep guiding him in the right direction. And, if he’s ever looking for clarity, he can always count on listening to a particularly special inner voice.
“I’ve adopted a new perspective in terms of living my life,” he shares. “If in doubt, I ask myself, ‘What would Jason have done?’ Going forward, that’s always something that will be in the back of my mind.”