Golden Valley High School valedictorian Katy Shin is one of 12 Los Angeles County high school students awarded the $10,000 Milken Scholars Award.
Recipients of the award are chosen for their academic performance, community service, leadership and their ability to persevere in the face of personal challenges.
“I felt really grateful and I almost felt like I didn’t deserve it at first,” said Shin, “just because I know how many amazing students apply for it.”
Shin discovered the scholarship after her high school counselor suggested she apply for it. Shin figured, “Why not?” and didn’t want to regret passing up this opportunity.
After being nominated by her counselor — a nomination is mandatory to apply — she took the time out of her rigorous schedule and filled out the application. Later, she was notified she was a finalist.
Then after one final interview, she was chosen to receive the scholarship.
“Personally, coming from a lower-income background, that’s really important to me so I can afford college and not have to worry about my financial limitations,” said Shin.
Shin dedicated her high school career to giving back. In addition to being the valedictorian, Shin served as a Key Club lieutenant governor, heading the division leadership team and hosting monthly events focusing on service, fundraising and spirit for 12 clubs throughout Santa Clarita and San Fernando. She also was the co-captain and founder of Golden Valley’s Academic Decathlon team.
For the community, Shin founded BrighTEEN, providing free K-12 tutoring in the valley, during the pandemic.
Giving back will always have a place in her heart, but her true passion lies with mental health awareness.
Shin took a psychology course at a community college, which, she says, kickstarted her passion. Being a child of divorce also left her aware of all the mental struggles that children can endure.
She started and co-hosted the PsychHavev podcast and Brainimal blog where she discussed topics such as seasonal depression, family dysfunction and animal-assisted therapy. Shin also studied the effects of failure in sports on self-esteem at Columbia University’s Education for Persistence and Innovation Center and researched parental responses to children’s negative emotions and behaviors with Pioneer Academics.
In addition to being a Milken Scholar, Shin has earned the “scholar” title for seven different organizations including the Associated Press, QuestBridge College and Burger King.
Shin will be attending Stanford University in the fall, where she will study psychology in hopes of one day becoming a psychiatrist.
After struggling with mental health herself, she only hopes that she and her community can come together to be there for one another.
“No matter how short or long a period of time that they’re going through (a mental health issue),” said Shin, “I think everyone has their own struggles and it’s always valid. It’s not a competition of struggle. If they are struggling, I just want them to know that they’re not alone. That they’re deserving of health and love and support always. If we can listen to one another and understand one another, that’s the best thing, to heal as a community.”