Meet the Valedictorian and Salutatorians


Miya Sheker, Kayla Reger, Samantha Kuo, Thalia Hull, and Thomas Kim radiate happiness after receiving their awards.

Ashley Niu, Photojournalist

This year in the Safari-themed Renaissance Rally, the student body met the five most accomplished seniors who topped the academic and extracurricular charts at Yorba Linda High School: Miya Sheker, Thomas Kim, Samantha Kuo, Thalia Hull, and Kayla Reger. Now, let’s get an inside look on these outstanding students.


Miya Sheker

Motivated. Indecisive. Young. Amiable. These words spell out the essence of Miya Sheker, who has been deemed as the valedictorian of the 2015 graduating class at Yorba Linda High School. When Miya found out about this title, she felt that the situation was “unreal and gratifying” because all the hard work that she had put into her studies and activities lead her to an unexpected remarkable result. Throughout her high school career, she has been highly involved within the school while maintaining her academics. Her prominent activities at school include Associated Student Body (ASB) for two years, Orange County Academic Decathlon (OCAD) for four years, Speech and Debate for four years, Mock Trial for four years, California Scholarship Federation (CSF) for four years, Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) for three years, Link Crew for two years. Within these activities, Miya has also gained astonishing accomplishments in OCAD placing 1st in interview (with a perfect score), 3rd in math, and 3rd in speech and in Speech and Debate going to state qualifiers twice as a duo with Samantha Kuo and notable positions as the senior class president, captain of OCAD, and inaugural member of Speech and Debate.

Even though Miya had been greatly involved throughout campus in the past three years, she decided to be even more involved this year joining Comedy Sportz, Quad Sessions, and Theatre. Miya even tackled onto the school spring musical, The Bells are Ringing, as Gwynne Smith who works “Susanswerphone”.

Because of all the great memories at YLHS and high school coming to a close, Miya regrets not being involved earlier as she could have had more memories. But within those memories made in the past four years, she remembers the opening night for the musical, her first Comedy Sportz match (also hilariously guiding cars as a ballet parker before the match), Mock Trial bus rides to competition (singing as well as watching Connor and Nikhil’s raps), etc. Aside from activities, academically she enjoyed all her language arts, AP US History, and Biology Honors classes.

Outside of school, her hobbies consist of playing her ukulele, drawing, searching up calming manatees, and baking, especially macaroons, cupcakes, cake pops, and brownies.

As for next fall, she has not yet decided which university to attend but plans on majoring in anthropology and international studies to pursue a career as a diplomat, though as a child, she dreamed to be a master sampler at Costco. Although this dream has not become reality, Miya is the valedictorian of the graduating class of 2015 and advises underclassmen to “get involved joining anything you can and support yourself with people who will help you.”


Thomas Kim

The expressive, persistent epicurean, Thomas Kim is one of the four co-salutatorians of the graduating class of 2015. Along with this honor, he has accomplished many throughout his four years at Yorba Linda High School. His accomplishments comprise of a 3.98 unweighted GPA, 35 on ACT, honorable mention on USAMTS, and nomination to participate at Boys State. Thomas has been involved in Mathletics for three years as the current president, tennis for four years, CSF for four years, and OCAD for one year.

Thomas had taken rigorous classes starting from two AP classes during sophomore year (AP Chemistry and AP European History) to six AP classes during senior year. Although he has had a packed demanding schedule, Thomas had never been severely stressed and claims never staying up past 12 o’clock. In these challenging classes, he enjoyed Calculus BC, AP US History, and AP Chemistry. Within Calculus BC, Kim distinctly remembers getting prepped up for the Calculus AB vs. BC dodgeball game during fourth period and the actual competition. The only thing he regrets from his high school career is that he was not widely involved while focusing on academics. With graduation coming soon, Thomas has committed to Dartmouth College majoring in Applied Mathematics. While attending Dartmouth, he hopes to “expand [his] horizon and experience new things.”

Besides school, Thomas likes to listen to Kanye West, play tennis, beatbox, and search on Yelp on his free time. Currently, his favorite television shows are Office, Breaking Bad, and Futurama and he subscribes to JKfilms on YouTube. As an epicurean, he enjoys French Toast Crunch and Phil’s Barbeque in San Diego. Thomas has a sweet and savory tooth because he could not create an ice cream flavor better than Pralines and Cream and goes to Phil’s Barbeque every time he visits San Diego. In the summer, Kim will travel to Korea and go on road trips with friends to relax from the past unpleasant AP homework summers.

This Mustang has had great success in high school and will continue on through college.


Samantha Kuo

While at Yorba Linda High School, this salutatorian Mustang has been dedicated to certain extracurricular activities such as Speech and Debate and Red Cross for four years. She currently holds positions as the captain of the Speech and Debate team and historian of American Red Cross Club (formerly the special events coordinator). Samantha has especially excelled in Speech and Debate as a duo with Miya Sheker and as original advocacy going to State qualifiers twice. In addition, she has shined academically as she has received 5s on the AP exams she has taken, has maintained straight As on her report card, and is within top three academic scholars of the senior class.

In her free time, she maintains her blog and posts about once a week writing about fashion, thoughts, and life. Samantha enjoys expressing her opinion to other people who share similar perceptions because the blog feeds that inner desire to write about fashion and her outlook to life.  Also, she constantly watches YouTube and is a “phan” girl of usernames: amazingphil and danisnotonfire. These two British internet stars keeps her amused and ships them together as the truest best friends. Also, she enjoys watching them so much so that she would like to travel to London as a vacation spot in the near future. Additionally, as a fun fact, she hopes to make a Strawberry Calpico ice cream flavor since there aren’t many drink-based ice cream.

With high school closely ending, Samantha’s most memorable moments at YLHS include her random lunch conversations with her friends, her first meeting with Mrs. Dagampat, and her intense studying in her bedroom at 11 p.m. for AP US History. The only thing she had regretted in high school was overstressing herself and tells other stressed underclassmen to “keep calm and do want you want to do.” As for graduation, she expects it to “go out with a bang and song like the last ten minutes of High School Musical 3.”

Next fall, Samantha will be attending University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) majoring in mechanical engineering. When she visited the college, she was attracted to the overall vibe and energy of the Bruins with their spirit and scenery. As for her future career, she is considering going into law as a patent lawyer.

Hoping the best for all, this Mustang will graduate to become a Bruin and will pursue her interests.


Thalia Hull

When Thalia found out about her achievement as salutatorian through a friend, she was “pleasantly surprised” and the title was “totally unexpected.” Thalia deserved becoming salutatorian with her academic excellence and extracurricular involvement. As for academics, she maintained unweighted 4.0 GPA from sophomore to senior year, received 5s on all AP exams taken, nominated to participate in local American Chemical Society Chemistry Olympiad, and 34 on ACT. As for extracurricular activities, Thalia is involved in Orange County Academic Decathlon, water polo, orchestra, Math Appreciation club, and Chinese Club. For academic decathlon, she was awarded 2nd place math, 3rd place essay, and 4th place economics at the OCAD tournament. Within these activities, she hopes to continue orchestra and recreational swim team in college.

Thalia will graduate from Yorba Linda High School to pursue computer engineering at Brigham-Young University. She felt BYU was a match for her because of her religion as a Mormon and its affordability and plans to live off campus in an apartment with her friends. After attending Brigham Young for a year, she plans to transfer to either Georgia Tech or UCLA to take upon aeronautical engineering in hopes to have a career in building planes and rockets to space. Although she will be attending BYU in the fall, Thalia was offered admission with varying scholarships to several prominent universities such as California State University, Fullerton; Georgia Institute of Technology; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; and University of California, San Diego.

Even though her schedule had been rigorous, she enjoyed learning in AP Computer Science, AP US History, AP Calculus BC. When Thalia is not doing her school work, she likes to walk her dog, go on Tumblr, cosplay, watch YouTube or anime, and write short stories. Her amuse for writing short stories even won her a small scholarship and her winning story is published within the association.

As graduation comes close, she is “sad to see high school go and is excited for everything that is coming next for her.” Before college during the summer, she hopes to swim, go to Comic Con, build her own robot, and travel to Japan. This chocolate loving Mustang would like to leave the underclassmen with the recommendation to “have good sleeping hours” no matter the homework load.


Kayla Reger

From the little girl who wanted to become a dolphin trainer to the graduating senior who has become one of the salutatorians, Kayla Reger has achieved much in her high school career to deserve her current prestigious position. Not only is she the co-salutatorian this year but also is the captain of the Speech and Debate impromptu team and an active member of numerous clubs include German Club, German National Honor Society, Red Cross, Quad Sessions, and National Honor Society. Kayla also shines in her academic merit by receiving 5s on all AP exams taken and maintaining a 4.0 GPA with the challenging courses. In addition, she had participated in the 3rd annual Yorba Linda High School talent show hosted by Choir Club and won the category of Best Dance alongside Malia Busch. Outside of school, she captained a Relay for Life team, which raised over $3000 and is currently a dancer for the band, Wheeland Brothers. Through these successes, Kayla will be attending either Smith College or University of California, San Diego as an undeclared major.


Besides her accomplishments, Kayla has qualities that make her a genuine person deserving of the recognition. Her favorite classes consist of German, chemistry, US History, computer science, language arts, and calculus. She is like any other typical high schooler sharing special memories with her fellow classmates and friends. On the first day of sophomore year, it was her 16th birthday and she made friends that day whom she had “no idea would become such important people in [her] life” and was unaware of just how special those relationships would become in the next three years past. Moreover, Kayla suffered from the same stress all other students had experienced and had trouble balancing her social life with schoolwork. However, she decided to handle the stress by not being afraid to take on challenges but also not be afraid of asking for help and of failure. So, her advice to underclassmen is to “stop caring so much about being cool and do your homework [because] the sooner you unravel this paradox, the happier and more successful you will be in high school.”


With the senior trip to Disneyland coming up, Kayla wants to have the superpower to stop time so if she had to pee while in line for a ride at Disneyland, she could pause everything, use the restroom, and come back. Also, she wishes to use this power to make every moment last in the next two months before she leaves high school. Kayla hopes her high school career will end happily and having had accomplished all that she could over senior year.