Jakin Jeong ’19 gave the following Chapel Talk in May 2019 reflecting on his time at Saint James School with a few tips for future students.
Before I start, I want to say two things. First of all, I know every single one of you in this room. I can name everybody in this room. Yes, I took the time on August 21 to study everybody’s name on Blackbaud. Why am I saying this? Because I am proud of it. I am proud that I can name everybody at my school. It only took me 30 minutes.
Second, I want to thank Mrs. Lachut for preparing me to give this chapel talk. All the current event presentations I did in her class made me feel ready right now, so to everybody who has Mrs. Lachut as a history teacher, when she gives you a current event assignment you have to say, “thank you for getting me prepared for my sixth form chapel talk.”
I am going to talk about myself and give you some tips.
- Why I decided to come to the United States of America?
I decided to come because I wanted to play basketball and baseball seriously. My dream was to be a pro baseball player or a basketball player. Yes, I was one of those typical Asian boys who want to play pro basketball. I didn’t really study for any tests my third form year because I always thought I could go pro in baseball or basketball. I would get a C on an English paper my third form year and I would say to myself, “It’s alright, Jakin, because you aren’t here for books but to be a pro basketball player or a baseball player.”
Another reason I came here was because I did not want to study. An average high school student in Korea studies 10 hours a day. 10 HOURS A DAY. I know it doesn’t sound real but it is the reality. I REALLY didn’t want to do that, so I told my mom I wanted to go to the United States to study. I told them that I was seriously ready to study hard but really, I was seriously ready to start my basketball and baseball career.
- My name
Has anyone in this room heard my name before you met me?
There are several ways to pronounce my name.
- Hakin: Mr. Heebner, Jordan Walendom and Tom Tang sometimes call me that.
- Jak-in: Some of the third form boys in my escape room club and Zach Crampton call me Jak-in Jeong.
- Ja-kin: Only Mr. Heebner rarely calls me that.
The correct way to pronounce my name is Jakin. There are two ways to spell my name. One is J-A-K-I-N and the other one is J-A-C-H-I-N. I picked J A K I N because I liked the K in my name for Korea. Oh, and by the way, I am from Korea if you guys didn’t know that.
Did anybody know that my name is from the Bible? It’s okay because Father Dunnan didn’t know that either. My name appears in the book of Kings and Chronicles. A little Bible story time!
Solomon made a temple and he built two big pillars in front of it. He named them Jakin and Boaz. My dad’s name is Boaz and I am Jakin. Boaz means ‘In Him is strength’ and Jakin means ‘He shall establish’ or ‘God will establish.’
I am probably the most successful student at Saint James. I can say that because I am extremely happy here. I am only unhappy when I have a lot of homework, tests, quizzes, quests, and projects. Other than that, I love everybody, and I am very, very, very happy here. So second, third, and fourth formers, if you guys weren’t listening to me the past five minutes, it is okay, I forgive you. I understand my name may be boring. You should pay attention now because this is most likely going to be helpful to you.
TIP NUMBER ONE
This is for the international students. Make American friends. Make friends who can speak English fluently. This will not only make your speaking better but also make your life a lot more fun.
TIP NUMBER TWO
This goes to everybody. Make a faculty friend. My third form year in Onderdonk, my faculty friends were Mr. Howard and Ms. Holmes and my prefect that year was absolutely awesome. His name is Levi. He gave me this tie.
That year, we had a lot of WIFI and water problems. Water just didn’t come out of the sink sometimes and WIFI would just not work occasionally. When these problems happened, I think Miles Wyndham’s motto perfectly applies here. Does anybody know what Miles’ motto is? “To stay positive no matter what.”
I can promise you one thing. I guarantee you that the water and WIFI will not work in the future. When it doesn’t work what do you do? You stay positive and be thankful.
Back to my life that year. That year our dorm did so many fun things. We had a dorm pet. It was a very fat hamster. We named it ROI. I don’t know why. When its hair got too long, Levi suggested that we should give him a haircut, so we used Tom’s razer and gave him the freshest cut ever. I mean it was so fresh.
We had a marshmallow gun fight on Levi’s birthday. We went to the movies with Father Dunnan to watch Jungle Book. I think he had the most fun out of all of us.
My fourth form year, my faculty friends were the Quinn’s, Mr. DeWalt, and Mr. Yergey. It’s kind of crazy how fast I am getting old. I just can’t believe that I am graduating. I still feel like I am a 15-year-old third form boy but when I see Cooper Quinn and Mr. DeWalt’s fat cats I realize how old I am getting. My friendship with Cooper Quinn peaked in my fourth form year in Mattingly when he couldn’t say anything and could barely walk. Cooper fell asleep multiple times on my lap and I took great care of him.
I remember the day when Mr. DeWalt got his kittens. Mr. Wivell found the two poor kittens in an old shelter by themselves, so he was looking for a home for them. I am pretty sure that Mr. DeWalt bravely raised his hand and said, “I will take good care of them!” and he gave Mr. Wivell a million-dollar smile. Thanks to Mr. DeWalt, the kittens are now in great health. The two kittens were the most adorable creatures I have ever seen. Our Mattingly group that year came up with the names Phelix and Nugget for them. Now they are very fat and big. They are still mad cute though.
So that year, my hope of playing pro baseball was slowly fading away as reality set in, so I set a new goal. To be a starter on the Varsity Baseball team and help them as much as possible. I looked at the lineup that year and realized we only had two lefty hitters. They were Jared Carr and Lane Gay, so that year I practiced very hard swinging lefty, thinking I could balance out the lineup.
After striking out five times swinging lefty in JV, I went to Mr. Yergey to get some advice to improve my batting average. You might be wondering why I went to see Mr. Yergey instead of a baseball coach. I went to see him because he was one of my best faculty friends that year and he looked like he knows the most about baseball out of my three faculty friends. I saw Mr. DeWalt swinging a bat and his swinging form was very ugly and he didn’t really hit any dingers when we played wiffle ball. And Mr. Quinn was a big soccer guy, so I came to the conclusion that Mr. Yergey was my best option. He looked at my neon bat and said, “Well, you are using the wrong bat. If you want to swing lefty and hit dongs, you have to get a left-handed bat.” My mind was blown. I said to myself, “Aw, such a rookie mistake.” It was the bat. It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t making contact with the ball because I was using my right-handed bat to swing lefty. I was so happy at first and I told Will about this later and he died laughing at me and said, “Yergs got your neck.”
That year, Mr. Yergey, Mr. AND Mrs. Quinn, and Mr. DeWalt all played wiffle ball with us once in a while. The day before Commencement everybody in Mattingly played wiffle ball in the Mattingly parking lot and that was definitely one of my best moments at Saint James. I really want to say thank you to Mrs. Quinn, Mr. DeWalt, and Mr. Yergey.
My fifth form year is when I got closer to the Lachut’s, Mr. Ponder, Mr. Heebner, and Father Dunnan. I have so many good stories with them, too, but I am running out of time here so if you want to listen to more stories just come talk to me later.
So now some of you might be wondering, “how can I tell if I made a faculty friend or not?”
Well, you have to make a special handshake with them. If you don’t feel awkward and have fun no matter how long you spend time with them, then congratulations, you just made a faculty friend.
So, what are my tips today?
- Make American friends.
- Make a faculty friend.
- Be thankful
I have Saint James to thank for a wonderful four-year life and I will really, really miss Saint James a lot.
Jakin Jeong is sixth form student from Seoul, South Korea. This year, he served as Senior Marshal in chapel, was a prefect, and was a member of the MAC Champion Wrestling and Baseball teams.
Saint James School is a coeducational boarding school with a day student program for students in grades 8-12 located in western Maryland.