Hon-ey, Let Me Sing you a song

Even during his last term at the Academy, four-year senior Ja-Hon Wang continues to work his hardest in the different facets of Exeter life that keeps him occupied here. Wang is an avid cellist in the Symphony, Chamber Orchestra and one of the string quartets. In addition, Wang is the co-head of Biology Club, a member of Christian Fellowship and the Praise Team, a distance track runner and a Student Listener in Ewald Hall.

Though Wang, having played cello since age four, is one of the most advanced cellists at the Academy, interestingly, his heavy involvement with different orchestras and chamber music groups did not begin until lower year.

Wang believes that although joining Symphony and Chamber Orchestra were instrumental to kicking off his music career as an Exonian, the highlight of his musical career was organizing his own chamber music octet.

"It was really nice being able to seek out seven passionate musicians to play one of the most challenging pieces in octet repertoire," Wang said about the creation of his octet. "It was also awesome to see how, next year, other musicians decided to seek out their own groups and raise the bar in the quality of the performances in the entire music department."

The faculty in the music department described Wang as a natural leader and listener.

"Ja-Hon is a real leader in our close-knit musical community because he so highly motivated by his own standards and his desire to play music as well as he can," music department head Rohan Smith said. "In Chamber Orchestra and Symphony, Ja-Hon is the kind of player who gives back more than you ask for."

Adjunct music instructor Eva Gruesser, who coaches Wang’s string quartet, agreed. "Ja-Hon’s greatest gift is that he is a good listener who is searching inside himself for new possibilities and layers of musical expression," she said. "He is a very fine cellist and always uses his cello to make interesting and passionate music. I have watched him mature enormously as a musician and cellist over the last three years."

Wang’s fellow student musicians also had high praises for Wang’s unequaled commitment and excellence in the study and performance of music.

"Ja-Hon is an absolutely-phenomenal cellist. Usually a very-talented musician is either technically proficient or has great musicality and style, but Ja-Hon has both," senior William Yu, a member of Wang’s string quartet, commented. "His discipline and commitment to practicing leaves me in awe, and whenever I see his recognizable light blue case open in the music building, you can surely expect to hear some scales being practiced again and again in one of the practice rooms."

Senior Mikayla Reine, another member of Wang and Yu’s quartet, added, "I guess what really strikes me is how much Ja-Hon truly cares about the music, beyond it sounding pretty or his technical skill or anything else. It is so clear when he plays that he has found something personal in the music, and he isn't holding anything back."

For Wang, the most-enjoyable part about music is the community. "You’re always in conversation with others. It’s always about trying to play off each other’s melodies and harmonies and playing into each other’s sounds so that the piece sounds like one voice," Wang said.

Although Wang shines in the arts through the depth in his musical studies, the level of passion he brings is paralleled in science classrooms and lab benches. Since he was young, Wang was exposed to science, especially neuroscience, through the influence of his father, a researcher. At Exeter, Wang has found numerous outlets for his love of science including the newly-offered biology research course with Stanford University.

In addition, Wang is a co-head for the Biology Club. At the club, Wang enjoys sharing the bits of knowledge he picked up from AP Biology, genetics courses, and his recent internship at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

"The club is a space where I’ve become a teacher for a lot of underclassmen who haven’t had nearly as much exposure to labs, science journals and scientists," Wang said. "I find myself working with Mrs. Rankin to figure out the best way to introduce lab techniques or articles to my peers. I found myself being independent in setting up and preparing for the labs like the Biology teachers to for their classes at Exeter."

Science instructor Anne Rankin, who serves as the faculty adviser to the Biology Club, said that she appreciates the opportunity to work with Wang in the club. "Ja-Hon was selected to lead Biology Club this year because of his genuine love for biology, enthusiasm and attention to detail," she said. "I respect Ja-Hon’s intellect, work ethic and positive attitude enormously."

Upper Jacqueline Kim, the second co-head for the Biology Club, agreed. "Ja-Hon is not only extremely knowledgeable in so many areas of biology, but he's also really friendly and sociable. He's willing to help out club members whenever they need it, and that kind of attitude makes him someone that everyone looks up to," she said.

Aside from the academic scene, Wang is also a prominent member at the Phillips Church in the Christian community as a part of Christian Fellowship and Praise team and as one of the church proctors.

Although Wang was not very religious before he came to Exeter, he found a group of welcoming people that drew him into the various communities at Phillips Church.

Upper Yeji Jung pointed Wang out as one of the most-supportive figures at the church. "He's so full of excitement and always eager to share it, something I admire and aspire to emulate," Jung said. "He makes sure people know that he's available as a friend, fellow Christian, fellow Exonian, brother—whatever they need him to be for them, and he's always glad to help."

Senior Tiffany Tuedor agreed. "He truly cares about each and every person at Christian Fellowship and tries to build a relationship with them. He's not ashamed to talk about his faith and the struggles that come with it," she said.

Reverend Bob Thompson said that during the four years he has known Wang, it is evident that Wang has matured. "He bloomed as a young man, in confidence, in growth, as a leader, and as a human being. Some of us grow intellectually, and don’t grow spiritually. However, Ja-Hon has grown in intellectual, emotional and spiritual ways, and growth in all these areas have kept pace for Ja-Hon," Thompson said.

A musician, a scientist and a committed churchgoer Wang has a busy schedule, but he makes room for one of his favorite sports, distance track. "I do winter track because I really like the small community," Wang said. "The distance team is especially close because especially in the winter, we brave the cold every single day and go on 6-mile runs together and get to know each other."

Senior Sarah Van Cleave supported Wang’s statement about the close-knit community that distance track provides for its athletes. "The camaraderie of the track team clearly means a lot to Ja-Hon, and he has a real love for going on long trail runs so he can get to know other runners."

Many agree that Wang is a caring and trustworthy friend. Wang has taken his social skills and experiences to give back to his community and his dorm as a Student Listener.

Senior Cade Margus of Ewald Hall noted Wang’s presence in the dorm as a Student Listener. "Ja-Hon's a great Student Listener. I have no doubt that kids feel comfortable going to Ja-Hon with their problems, just because he's such a friendly character around the dorm," Margus said.

Upper Nate Moulton, a friend of Wang’s, agreed. "I don't live in his dorm, but we're good friends. He's helped me through some really rough times," Moulton said. "He's an amazing listener and a friend in the truest sense of the word."

Wang does not have concrete plans for his future. However, with the range of his interests and areas of expertise, Wang said that he wanted to "keep his options open."

"I simply want to use my college years to gain a broader perspective on what kind of people are out there," Wang said.

"I simply want to use my college years to gain a broader perspective on what kind of people are out there," Wang said.


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