If Inderkum High had an academic Hall of Fame, New Latthivongskorn would certainly be in it.
He’ll graduate with a medical doctor degree from UC San Francisco in May, after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology at UC Berkeley, and a master’s degree in public health at Harvard University.
Preparing to be a physician, New plans to focus on family medicine as his new career. He returned to Inderkum to speak at a University of California outreach event recently, “UC Achieve,” and was treated like a rock star by some current Tigers.
New graduated from Inderkum’s “Class of 2008,” the first class in which students attended the relatively new school all four years. He took nearly every Advanced Placement (AP) class offered at Inderkum, which he credits with helping set his academic foundation.
“I think it gave me a strong foundation in terms of my studies, my academic skills – how to study rigorously,” he said. “I really tried to make use of all that was available (at Inderkum.) I think I learned a lot about study skills. My academic foundation was set real well here.”
New was driven to succeed academically, in part, because his family had to lift themselves up by their bootstraps after immigrating from Thailand when the economy crashed there. Undocumented, his parents kept the family going initially by working long hours as servers in Thai restaurants. To New, they stressed the importance of getting a good education.
Along the way, New became an activist in fighting to help undocumented immigrants, particularly in obtaining health care or pursuing college degrees. He helped create a nonprofit organization, Pre-Health Dreamers, to serve as a network, community, and advocacy group for undocumented students pursuing careers in health or science.
In his recent speech to hundreds of Inderkum students, New hammered home three key messages:
1) Adopt a growth mindset.
“Failures and making mistakes are part of the game,” he said. “It’s a part of life. … Sometimes you fall a little short, or things don’t turn out the way you might have planned, That’s OK, just think about what you could do better next time and keep growing from that.”
2) Find and surround yourself with people who are going to support you, and who you can lean on – “your friends, your family, but also your teachers, your counselors and your principals, who are going to become your mentors.”
3) Never self-select yourself out of the process before you ever start.
“By never trying to apply, or put in an application to UC, I would not have ended up in Berkeley – and I would not be who I am today, standing in front of you,” he said. “Maybe someday, in a few years, you will be at UC and coming back to Inderkum like I am today. … It’s really good to be here.”