[box_light] by KATHY LOY | photos by Soul of Photography [/box_light]

The high school years are full of excitement and challenges for many students, but those of Yi-Ning (Natalie) Chen are unique. Natalie entered Pacific Academy in Encinitas as a sophomore and starts her senior year this fall. As a native of China, she sees many differences between her neighborhoods here in Carlsbad and her home in Taiwan. Natalie explains, “The environment, people and the cultures are different in many ways. One of the differences is living without my family, which provides me an opportunity to be independent and help me go further and build my character.”

The Principal at Pacific Academy, Erika Sanchez, thinks Natalie sets a strong example. “I have long been impressed by her intelligence, creativity, motivation, kindness, integrity and leadership. She quickly and effortlessly adapted at our school, and once she gained mastery and confidence with the English language, she graciously transitioned into her role as a school leader. She not only gets excellent grades, she is also a mentor and role-model to her peers by displaying how one can use their gifts and talents to give back,” explained Principal Sanchez.

At Pacific Academy, students are promised the “opportunity to be me” in having their natural abilities developed and nurtured. Natalie says the small class sizes, “family feeling” and caring faculty have helped develop her love of art and photography. “PA has taught me that school is not only a place to learn academics, but also a place to show and further pursue our wonderful gifts and talents,” said Natalie. Natalie earned the Top Artist award for the 2011-2012 school year and has done community service work in the U.S. and Guatemala. She also created the school yearbooks and newsletters, and was a finalist in the “Feed Your Greedy Organ” contest at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

[quote]I have learned how important it is to adapt to this new environment by always trying and learning new things.

~ Natalie Chen [/quote]

Back in China, Natalie has a 20-year old sister, Yian, who is majoring in Diplomacy. “While I miss her, I know we are both having good experiences that we enjoy discussing,” she said. “Studying in America has given me the gift of a strong spirit of adventure. I have learned how important it is to adapt to this new environment by always trying and learning new things,” said Natalie. It’s safe to say that Natalie has adapted very well..

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Name:  Yi-Ning (Natalie) Chen
Age:  17
School:  Pacific Academy
Grade:  12
Parents:  Caroline Chu and Egon Chen
Siblings’:  Yian Chen (20)

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