Stellar Alumni Reminisces on Years at Chamblee

Elysia Hwang poses for a picture. Photo courtesy of Elysia Hwang.

It’s been ten years since alum Elysia Hwang graduated from Chamblee Charter High School. As a member of the class of 2008, Hwang challenged herself both inside and outside of the classroom, earning the superlative “Most Likely to be a Millionaire” in the 2008 yearbook.

“I took a lot of APs [Advanced Placement classes] at Chamblee, and I think I took for granted just how many AP classes Chamblee offers,” said Hwang.

Besides taking AP classes, Hwang participated in Science Olympiad, math team, and debate team.

“Looking back, the teachers I remember best are the ones I spent time with outside of class,” said Hwang. “The teachers from my extracurriculars were definitely the most significant — Dr. [Jessica] Hunt and Mrs. [Maxine] Russack from math team, our debate team coach Mrs. [Susan] Mistretta, and of course, Mrs. [Pamela] Gilbert-Smith from Science Olympiad.”

Although all these teachers no longer work at Chamblee, Hwang still sees effects of their coaching and instruction on her own life.

“I’ve noticed over the years that I do still have a tendency to speak really quickly,” said Hwang. “When asked, I’ll usually attribute it to my years on the debate team.”

Hwang’s math class, taught by Hunt, remains memorable for several reasons.

“I was really close to all my classmates from Dr. Hunt’s class since we spent three years together in that one classroom,” said Hwang.

However, not all of her memories were pleasant.

“I think I was the first person from my class to get detention from Dr. Hunt. That one was a shocker for everyone,” she said.

Her senior year was almost marked with some struggles.

“I do remember senioritis hitting pretty hard,” said Hwang. “At one point, our entire AP Chem[istry] class was failing because we weren’t doing our assignments … We came out of it okay by crunching hard the last few weeks to make up all our assignments.”

After graduating from Chamblee, Hwang attended the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“I studied biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech, which was notorious for being the ‘jack of all trades’ engineering degree at the time,” said Hwang. “We learned a lot of different things but typically didn’t specialize in anything in particular.”

She also participated in activities around campus.

“I was really involved in a few cultural organizations but also maintained the website for the biomedical engineering newsletter, ‘The Pioneer,’” said Hwang.

Hwang has now entered the career world and is combining skills from her high school and college years.

“I currently work as a designer and front-end developer on an internal product at IBM,” said Hwang. “Because we’re an international company, we do spend a good bit of time on calls to ensure that our team members are aligned on the direction and roadmap of our product.”

This requires teamwork skills.

“Within my design team, my role involves building out our interfaces as well as maintaining and evolving our team’s design system in context of the larger IBM’s design system, Carbon,” said Hwang.

Outside of her career, Hwang takes advantage of all that Atlanta has to offer.

“I will always enjoy spending a day working at a coffee shop and wandering around the boutiques of Atlanta,” she said.

She also enjoys climbing.

“I spend much of my free time at the climbing gym,” said Hwang. “The climbing season starts up again soon so I’ll hopefully be outdoors a lot.”

Looking back on Chamblee, Hwang acknowledges that she attended a special high school that set her up for success.

I entered Georgia Tech as a sophomore and realized how lucky we were to have so many options,” she said.

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