Johnny Bui, US Presidential Scholar

Front Page Summary: 

Johnny Bui, a senior at Caesar Rodney Senior High School in Delaware and the 2016-2017 Delaware TSA President, was named a 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar in May.  

Johnny Bui, a senior at Caesar Rodney Senior High School in Delaware and the 2016-2017 Delaware TSA President, was named a 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar in May. Only 161 high school seniors from across the country are recognized each year for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields. Read more about Johnny and his involvement in TSA below.

How did you get involved in TSA?

In middle school, my family moved across the country from California to Delaware. My new middle school had a system where students rotated through four elective classes every year, and my favorite was certainly technology. There, I experienced the joys of making CO2 dragsters and making model rockets. My teacher, Mr. Medved, was also the school's TSA chapter advisor and he encouraged all of his students to join TSA. Since joining almost six years ago, I have grown as a person, and it is clear to me that joining TSA was one of the best choices I have ever made.

What is your favorite TSA memory?

I think my middle school advisor could be a salesman. No, he didn't fastidiously pitch to me a product worthy of late-night infomercials, but rather he somehow convinced me in my first year as a TSA member that I could do nine TSA competitions when I had originally only signed up for three. As a seventh grader, I had looked at the daunting list of events that I could compete in, and chose what I believed was a reasonable number. I did not feel confident in myself and only chose the events that I knew I would do well in.

A few days later, Mr. Medved calls me up to his desk, and asks me if I think I can do more than three. I hesitantly mumble a yes, and he suggests to me that I compete in "a few more." "Okay," I answer, not knowing that at that moment I had sealed my fate. About thirty minutes later, he gives me a list of the events that he signed me up for, and he reassured me that "they were all easy". While they in fact were not easy, Mr. Medved's confidence in me, even though I was not completely confident in myself, motivated me as I completed each event throughout the year. Somehow, he knew that I was the student that needed to be pushed in order to succeed. And that year, I placed in eight of the nine events during my first state conference. Each time I went up to get my medal, I saw Mr. Medved cheering me on. Little else can beat the feeling of pride and happiness that I felt that day.

 

What is the most important lesson you have learned as a TSA member?

The most important lesson that I have learned as a member is the importance of self-confidence. Throughout my TSA career, I have experienced multiple occasions where I knew I was out of my depth, either in skills or knowledge, yet I pushed on with the unyielding belief that I could do it if I tried hard enough.

Some of this ideology was fostered by the experiences I had my first year in TSA, but it was further developed by the desire to help my fellow TSA members as Chapter and eventually Delaware TSA State Officer. Many people began looking to me for advice, and while I honestly had no clue what I was doing half of the time, I gave them my best advice. This "fake it 'til you make it" mentality may not be something that you should rely on, but it certainly has helped me put forward my best work that I didn't know I could accomplish.

What was your favorite part of serving as the president of Delaware TSA?

Seeing many of my own role models hold the gavel before me inspired me to run for the highest elected leadership position in Delaware TSA. By the end of my junior year, I had served as three different State Officer positions, but nothing compared to my term as Delaware TSA State President. Over the past year, I have learned how to be a better leader, teammate, and friend. My favorite experience this past year certainly was bonding with my fellow state officers at our annual work plan retreat, where we all travel to a secluded lodge in the middle of nowhere (trust me, Delaware is pretty interesting), and developed goals and set deadlines for the upcoming year. Many shenanigans were had those few days, including flipped canoes and slightly overcooked beef kabobs, but I certainly wouldn't trade those memories for the world.

 

 What is the best piece of advice you have for current TSA members?

Your middle- and high-school years are the best years to explore your passions, however mainstream or obscure they may be. Whether it is filmmaking, beekeeping, music, or any other activity, I think it is of utmost importance to always make time for the experiences that you love. Don't feel compelled to become someone you are not in the name of “padding your college resume,” because contrary to popular belief, people appreciate someone who is passionate rather than someone who is well-rounded yet unenthusiastic. Take the time to learn how to be the best that you can be, and don't be afraid to share your knowledge and experiences with others. However hard it might seem, go out of your comfort zone and learn something new, even at the risk of failing the first few times. And most of all, give back: not just to your community, but also to your teachers, your peers, and those who look up to you.

Who is your role model?

My former middle school TSA advisor, Mr. Jim Medved, is perhaps my greatest role model. While he was an amazing teacher who fueled my unrelenting love for technology, he also coached me on how to become a better person. He has believed in me since day one, but more importantly, he has taught me that true happiness comes from giving back to society. His pursuit of a teaching career originated from his own belief that true fulfillment only comes from giving back, and over the past few years I have started to take his view to heart. As a teacher, neighbor, and Assistant Delaware TSA State Advisor, Mr. Medved has witnessed my journey and growth, and I honestly could not begin to imagine how my life would be different without his influence. Even during the times that I didn't believe in myself, his confidence in me was unwavering, propelling me through even the darkest of times. The best part about all of this: Mr. Medved has done all of this with little recognition. He didn't even know the extent of his impact on my life until earlier this year.

What are your plans for the future? What is your dream career?

This fall, I will be studying Molecular Biology and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Studying in this combined program will allow me to better understand the complex interplay between science and technology in our world and develop processes that integrate concepts from these two fields. After pursuing graduate education, I would like to enter the field of computational genomics to help us understand the impacts that result from the modification of genetic data in an organism. Working as a researcher would allow me to have a far reaching impact on the world, something that I have always aspired to do. Being a TSA member has helped foster my love for STEM concepts and has ultimately guided me to admission at my dream college majoring in something I know that I will use to give back to the world.