Terra Nova High School Class of 2021 co-valedictorians Jenson Ho and Victor Wu and salutatorian Connor Uter are heading to college after high school years filled with academics, clubs and sports.
Victor Wu will attend UCLA, which he chose for its top academic ranking and because it’s not too far from home. He will pursue a math and economics major, hoping to land a career in applied mathematics looking at data.
“I really like math,” he said. “I took advanced placement calculus my junior year and statistics my senior year. I became interested in looking at more data.”
He was a mock trial member for all four years and swam all four years. He was an Asian Club member for three years and Students In Action member for two years. He started a book club this year, and read “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, choosing the book for its unique perspective.
He helped organize and participated in community service drives. He volunteered in a third-grade classroom and at a summer camp.
He hopes he will be remembered by his fellow Terra Nova students as a good friend.
“I think that’s the most important thing, rather than being smart,” he said.
Ho will be attending the University of California, Berkeley, for its convenient, close location and for its academic excellence. He will major in mechanical engineering.
“My dad was a mechanic in Hong Kong. That inspired me,” Ho said. “I’m into computers and cars and messing around with that. I don’t know what I want to do yet for a career, but I want to build something that will be used every day.
“My dad told me not to be an actual mechanic to take things to another level. That’s what I will do,” he said.
He said Terra Nova classes prepared him well for the future. He said, technically, English is his second language, so he loved the high academic standards of both his English classes and the other classes.
“Calculus was a big help. I took a car mechanics class at Skyline College,” he said. “I’m very technical. I like the tiny details of things. I want to know a lot more than the surface.”
He’s a Daly City resident who lives a few doors down from co-valedictorian Wu. They have been lifelong friends. The pandemic changed the way he learned, but he soon adjusted.
“At first I thought it was a drag but I adapted and figured out a way to do things on my own schedule and liked not having to commute every day. Journalism was radically different. I was more abstract, designing pages and formatting,” he said.
He served as president of the Asian Club leading movements against hate crimes. He sent representatives to the recent rally in Pacifica against Asian American hate crimes. He was a member of Students in Action, a community service club. As a member of that club he collected school supplies to give to others who needed the help.
“Why not push someone to do great things, too?” he asked. “You never know what kind of an impact you may have. Take every opportunity to be helpful.”
He made sure teachers felt honored on teacher appreciation days as an SIA member.
“When I was in middle school, I loved helping teachers,” he said.
He was a member of the mock trial team, team captain this last year with co-valedictorian Wu. He said that experience taught him how to connect his thoughts.
“It was hard to do online but it still had its fun aspects. The coach was a big help who gave me many tips,” he said.
He played badminton at school, picking up on an old family tradition. He said it gave him joy.
Connor Uter, salutatorian, played varsity football, basketball and baseball. He joined the varsity baseball team as a sophomore.
He is going to College of San Mateo to study math and to continue to play baseball. He hasn’t decided yet on a career path, but he leans toward biochemistry or engineering. His dad is a biochemist.
“I wasn’t ready to give up my love for baseball,” he said. “College of San Mateo made good financial sense and I wanted to stay close to home.”
The Pacifica resident said his favorite academic subject was math.
“I like that there is only one right answer. It is not open to interpretation,” he said.
He liked the close relationships he had with Terra Nova staff. He said he worked hard at school.
“I appreciated the extra effort teachers put into online learning to make it work,” he said. “I will always be remembered for always raising my hand.”
He said he picked up a couple of new hobbies over the COVID-19 quarantine period, surfing and snowboarding.
“I want to give a big shoutout to my parents. They really helped me out. I want to make sure I recognize them,” he said.