A Winning Overachiever


Leslie showing her prize she won during the National History Day Nationals. Picture taken by Kijune Kim.

Tamaiah Crawford, Reporter

Being the smartest person in the room isn’t impossible. It takes effort, commitment and much concentration on the things you are devoted to. A lot of people accomplish this in many ways than one, whether it’ll be in sports, architecture, theatre, literature, or even card games. Every person is profound to be good at something, and that thing could be possible the one thing they are clever at doing. And for ambitious Leslie Kim, a freshman at Ames High, she defines herself in her achievements in education, which has become the best of her hobbies and other personal activities. 

Long before she became invested in those subjects, Kim was like any other kid:  enjoying the best of life. Relaxation at best, stress to the least, but she still would help her family. Such as helping her little sister with building and engineering small projects, or even her older. But when she’s by herself, she usually reads fiction books for entertainment and tinkers with other materials to build whatever comes to mind. Until she joined the National History Day and Scholastic Writing and Arts Competition, she found and achieve new things to admire. 

At first, Kim despised history from her very existence. Never good at it, and she knew it was true, but pursing NHD in her 7th-grade year was only the act of improvement. Only to get better at history, but little did she know that her first-year she made it to regionals in the state. Astonished by the news and surprised her ranking getting in the “Top 5 “in the competition,  when she participated in doing the U.S History and Japanese intermediate. Continuing to participate in her 8th-grade year, as a result, and creating a goal for herself to make it to nationals. 

“When you are researching it seemed kind of boring,” said Kim, “but eventually you get to a point where it’s like ‘Wow, it’s kinda dope.” 

Confident and determined, she worked extremely and effortlessly hard to prepare for the round. Wiping over from much support she gets from everyone, researching Gwangju Uprising and Korean history, all the build-up to the final moment where Kim went for her second-year. But this soon deflated as she became an alternate in the state competition, missing out on her opportunity to do something grand. Defeated, but mostly heartbroken, Kim didn’t expect a week later for astonishing news: being a sub for one of the winners in nationals. With a limit of time, less than ready preparation, and a lot of hustling before the deadline, she came out victorious. Doing the 1980s Korean and U.S History from the Junior Division by the summer, she dominated NHD winning the nationals. 

But NHD wasn’t her only biggest accomplishment,  in the same year she first started NHD she participated in Scholastic Art and Writing competition. Motivated on wanting to do more in her writing, she joins this competition and never expected to receive a Golden Key trophy from winning in the Regional and National. This soon compelled Kim to join the Scholastic Writing and Arts Competition held in New York in her 8th year, wanting to do better than before. But mostly wanting to submit her piece because she found nothing else to do with it, disbelieving in her skills that it wouldn’t go as far as it could. And, once again, she was shocked to hear her winning by her stunning work for being well written and enjoyable plot. Winning a National Gold Medal and a Best in Grade award. 

These experiences gave Kim a new sense of confidence, but mostly new things that she can also enjoy in life. With much of the future ahead of her, she wants to experience the best that comes in her way and try her hardest in the things she does best. 

“You don’t realize the worth of your pieces until someone tells you,” said Kim. Still striving to this day to do more than the average of her worth.