Haochen "Vincent" Wang from China (Class of 2007)

Before & After

Currently, Haochen "Vincent" lives in Chicago and works as a Application Engineer for one of the leading Japanese machine tools manufacturing company.

How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now:
"I have met some of my best friends and greatest teachers in my life during my years in Southwestern Academy. Without their help and encouragement, I probably would not survive engineering school all these years."

His fondest memory: 
"That would be the Chinese New Year Celebration event. (Was it called the Chinese dinner?) I still could not believe I managed to cook Chinese food for 100 people in just one afternoon."

Jacob Dean Skillett from U.S.A. (Class of 2012)

Before & After

Jacob is currently starting his Junior year at The University Of North Dakota, Majoring in Commercial Aviation. Since graduation he has received a Private Pilot's license and is an Instrument rated Pilot. This upcoming year he will be receiving his Commercial Pilot's License, with an Aerobatic/Multi-engine rating, and will be flying cargo around the Upper Middle West (U.S.A.). 


How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now:
"Southwestern Academy really helped me get focused and understand the amount of work that goes into achieving your goals. The workload from Southwestern Academy prepared me to deal with the workload that any college/university usually gives its students."

His fondest memory: 
"My Fondest memory/memories at Southwestern were the sheer diversity of the students and getting to understand their cultures. I remember more specifically a time sitting with a Japanese student,  I learned and asked questions that showed me how different my culture and upbringing is compared to his. That is by far the greatest memory I got from Southwestern Academy."

Yi-Fan Chu from Taiwan (Class of 1999)

Before & After


Yi-Fan is currently working as Executive Chef at Dusit D2 in Patong Phuket. It is a resort that has over 340 rooms, and 6 outlets. He has been cooking over 14 years and will never stop cooking. “Cooking is my passion and my life.”  He is engaged and is looking forward to his upcoming wedding this December. Yi-Fan recently was a competitor on show called Iron Chef, and finished for the 2nd Rematch battle. The video has not yet been released.

Here are two article links which highlight Yi-Fan's current success:



How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now
"Southwestern Academy taught me how to be myself, to be independent and to show us that, no matter where we are coming from and what our family back ground is…if we work hard good things will come to us." 

His fondest memory:
"I love Southwestern Academy. Every moment is memorable, but I never forget this: back in 1996 we lost a great volleyball player named Boonyarit Thanapoomikul. We went to our last playoff game against Providence High School.  We hoped that 'we will win for him' but lost that game and our team was so sad. While everyone was heartbroken, sad and crying, Mr. Gibbs comforted each player one by one. I remember he said to me, 'keep your head up and don’t give up!!' From that moment, I pushed myself. Since then, I had fallen in love with volleyball.  Even now, whenever I go through difficulties, I keep remembering what Mr. Gibbs told me that day....and I never let myself give up." 

Blend Bardhi from Kosovo (Class of 2001)

Before & After

Blend is currently a part-time student studying Public Administration and Policy at one of the Universities in Kosovo. He is also helping his uncle run his business. 

How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now:
"Southwestern Academy taught me many things but the most important are work ethic and a strong desire to always grow and grow all ways."

His fondest memory: 
"All of the memories from Southwestern Academy are good memories; but the ones I remember  most vividly  are the hiking trips with Mr.Herbst, Mr.Veronda’s excellently explained US History lessons  and of course  the aroma of food being cooked outside on the big grill."

Lucas Porter from U.S.A. (Class of 2010)

Before & After

Lucas recently graduated from Loyola Marymount University in May of 2014. He has been working as a production associate for an independent film company for two years, and is looking forward to getting a full time position!

How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now:
"Southwestern Academy exposed me to the international community. I was surprised at the amount of travel I had to do; I've been to France & England to attend some international film festivals. China has already built some massive film studios, so it's only a matter of time before I fly out there! Southwestern Academy did a fantastic job to prepare me for college, AND to feel comfortable with many different cultures. It is a huge asset if you want to do international business."

His fondest memory: 
"I have always loved the history classes, whether it was Mr. Gibbs teaching us about barbarians running around the place pillaging, or Mr. Veronda giving his amazing Theodore Roosevelt impression (Bully!!). Mr. Herbst & Mr. Nord made math fun for me, and I loathed the subject. Nevertheless, they helped me tackle it. I could never forget Mr. Herbst's hikes!!"

Risa Yamanaka from Japan (Class of 2011)

Before & After

Risa is currently majoring in Psychology at Menlo College, San Jose, CA.

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now:
"Studyhall and the contents of the classes I took at Southwestern Academy helped me become more adaptable to college courses and acquire time-management skills."

Her fondest memory:
"Going to the international dinners and participating in more than a few."

Nancy Ruiz Vazquez from U.S.A. (Class of 2013)

Before & After

Nancy is currently attending Glendale Community College.

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now:
"Although I am attending a community college, Southwestern Academy has helped by giving me a good education so that I wouldn't need to take remedial English or Math."

Her fondest memory: 
"Ms. Brunjes' Astronomy class (going to the field trips), Yearbook (even though it was stressful, I got out of P.E. and was able to spend time with my two best friends), and graduating with my two best friends."

Van-Phuc Hoang from Germany (Class of 2007)


Before & After

Van-Phuc Hoang is currently studying law at the University of Bochum (RUB). 

How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now 
"Southwestern Academy helped me achieve my goal in a fundamental way. Before I went to Southwestern Academy, school was below my interests. I was rather a lost young individual and doing other things than school was more interesting to me. It was until I came to Southwestern, that I have realized how beautiful it can be to study and getting good grades. I started to read more. The more I read, the more I learned and the better my academics became. I was developing a passion for studies and I can't say in words how much I am thankful for that inner discovery. I am now back in school and I enjoy that more than ever. I never thought that I would ever think in that way."

His fondest memory: 
"There are a lot of great memories at Southwestern Academy, but I think the most influential memory to me was, when I first kissed my first girlfriend (Ana) and fell in love with her." 

Jennifer Noss from U.S.A. (Class of 1998)

Before & After

Jennifer is currently working as a Communications Specialist (911 Dispatcher) for Cottonwood PD, Cottonwood, AZ for last 5.5 yrs, living in the Verde Valley, about 25 min from Southwestern Academy Beaver Creek campus in Arizona for the last 16 yrs. 

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now: "Southwestern Academy has given me the opportunity to make new friends and lasting friendships. I learned the meaning of hard work, as I was on scholarship the 5 years I was there.  I learned about trying to get out and embrace adventure during our multiple trips to the Grand Canyon, White Mountains, Sedona, Payson, etc..."

Her fondest memory: "Senior class camping trip that we took with our science teacher Tony Rice to the White Mountains." 

Gwendolyn Mattias from U.S.A. (Class of 2011)

Before & After

Gwendolyn is currently going into my senior year at Hartwick College and will be graduating with a Business and Accounting degree. 

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now: "Southwestern has fully prepared me for college and life in general. I thought that college was going to be a difficult transition from Southwestern. However, it ended up being a very easy transition for me. The amount of work increased, but I was able to manage my time and get all the work done. In addition, I learned how to write very well at Southwestern, which helped me a lot in college as there was a lot of writing involved. I was able to achieve 'A's' on almost every writing assignment. Moreover, the science program at Southwestern allowed me to do well in the science classes that I had to take at my college."


Her fondest memory: "I had so many great memories at Southwestern so choosing just one is very tough. I learned something from every teacher at Southwestern that helped me to excel in college. Since I already mentioned writing and science, one thing that stuck in my mind was the dress code. Although every student complained about having it, including myself, it was actually one of the best things I ever learned for the real world and for college. As a business major, I have to dress in business attire for many of my presentations. If I never had  that dress code in high school, I don't think I would have ever known what was appropriate. I appreciate having had that dress code so much more now. It has not only prepared me for those presentations, but also for the future, when I have job interviews after college."

Suk Jin "Mark" Song from South Korea (Class of 2014)

Before & After

After recently graduating earlier this month and delivered an amazingly moving speech (which can be seen and heard on here: http://www.highschoolcube.com/event/commencement-program-of-the-class-of-2014-353864), Mark is currently taking advantage of his summer break by relaxing as he prepares to take on UCLA as a hopeful Biology major.

How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now: "Without the support Southwestern Academy has given me, I would not be as outgoing, smart, social, and confident. I would have never even dreamed of attending UCLA or be such an energetic person."

His fondest memory: "My fondest memory has to be my whole Senior Year, when I was not just the Student Body President but a respectable pal to all. And of course, I cannot forget about the performances SWASTAR had together that year."

Daisy Barrios from U.S.A. (Class of 2013)

Before & After

Daisy is currently on her second year at Cal Poly Pomona University as an English Literature Major.

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now: "Southwestern Academy has really helped me broaden my views of life and has opened my mind up to the different cultures and ethnicities that surround me. It has also helped in developing my writing and social skills."


Her fondest memory: "There are too many memories to choose from, but island camping with Mr. Herbst on my senior year was the highlight of my time at Southwestern Academy."

Victoria Egorevna Koubassova - Karsten from Russia (Class of 2003)

Before & After

Currently Victoria is living in San Diego, California and working at Ashford University. She is getting ready to take her Citizenship test. She and her husband are planning to renew their wedding vows for their upcoming 10 year anniversary. 

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now: "When I first came to Southwestern Academy (in 2000), I didn't know a single word in English. Southwestern Academy helped me learn English and to not be afraid of speaking my mind . This school helped me to make many international friendships which I cherish to this day."

Her fondest memory: "All three years I spent at Southwestern Academy were awesome, the best time in my teenage years. One of my fondest memories was when I threw a pie into Mr. Pulgencio's face at a fundraiser get together.  I really loved the times when we played sports and had special occasion dinners."

Juan Pesquera from Mexico (Class of 2011)

Before & After

Juan currently is an Intern at Warner Brothers Entertainment and C.O.O. of Mcube3 Productions. He is about to graduate with a degree on Engineering.

How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now: "I gained confidence and brains from Thomas Bornt and Lauren Brunjes."

His fondest memory"The friendship at the dorms, Hanging out with the gang and Drama Class."

Sylvia Banderas Coffinet from Mexico (Class of 2000)

Before & After

Sylvia is currently the Executive Beauty & Fashion Director at People en Espanol magazine based in NYC. 

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now: "Southwestern hires exceptional, caring, and talented teachers that made every effort to nurture my individual needs as a student. I never felt there was a general program because my teachers worked very hard to meet my specific needs as a student. For example, when I needed a little extra help in math, Mr. Herbst was always there to tutor and me and when I was reading ahead in my Literature classes, Mr. Pierpoint made time to sit with me after class and go over additional books we would select together. The special attention that I received helped me get ahead and go at a pace that was truly my own."

Her fondest memory: "Camping trips with Mr. Pierpoint and Mr. Herbst were always very special. My favorite by far was the trip to Anza Borrego State Park. The group night hikes were magical; I have never seen so many stars in my entire life. During the day we hiked and explored the vast landscape and learned about the many variety of cacti and wildflowers. I always learned so much on those trips as my teachers always knew how to turn the experience into a living classroom."


Colleen Ann Kuplast from U.S.A. (Class of 2010)

Before & After

Colleen is currently in Active Duty Navy, a part-time student at Concordia University, and volunteer softball coach. 

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now: "It helped me develop more as a person by introducing me to have a better understanding and knowledge of people from other countries, and it has given me some of my closest friends."

Her fondest memory: "Playing basketball." 

Rahul Parada Vishwanath from U.S.A. (Class of 2003)

Before & After

Rahul is currently working as a Structural Analysis Engineer at The Boeing Company as well as a Co-Founder/CFO/Driver of an endurance car racing team. He is also starting a Part-Time MBA at USC this fall of 2014. 

How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now: "I believe the biggest help I got from Southwestern, above just a high school diploma, was the ability to take A.P. Calculus and A.P. Physics. These courses are what drove me to become an engineer."

His fondest memory: "My fondest memory was playing soccer in 8th grade. While I was the youngest and the smallest kid on the team, the seniors and older players still looked out for me and included me as part of the team. My second fondest memory (even though this wasn't a question), was having a volleyball coach like Mr. Gibbs. He went above and beyond to get me to play volleyball and really be good at it and this is a sport that I continued playing through college and even now."



Ai Jimbo from Japan (Class of 2010)


Before & After

Currently Ai Jimbo is a student at UC Davis.

How Southwestern Academy helped her achieve to where she is now:  "It was a good step that I studied in Southwestern Academy because it improved my English skills before entering junior college."

Her fondest memory: "It was very cool to share the culture. At Japanese Dinner night, I made the miso soup. Mr. Veronda really liked it and took the big pot of miso soup to his house that had about 1/5 of it left. (He asked me to give him the recipe of my miso soup twice. I totally forgot till graduation so I ended up not giving it to him haha) It's cool to know that Japanese Dashi (soup that comes from Konbu seaweed and dried tuna fish) could be accepted in America." 

Jean Claude Rurangwa from Africa (Class of 2008)

Before & After

Jean Claude is currently involved in the transportation business realm. He is a truck driver and has his own company called Mudage Trucking Company. 

How Southwestern Academy helped him achieve to where he is now: "Southwestern helped me learn how to deal with daily life and American people. For example, knowing how important it is to speak and use proper English."


His fondest memory: "My fondest memory at Southwestern Academy was playing soccer and volleyball everyday after classes were over."
Congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2014! 

Here is the list of their college acceptances:

2014 Teacher Of The Year Award

Our very own Mr. John Kohn is a recipient of Otis College's 2014 Teacher of the Year award!