Top Senior Joey Jung

Meet 13 Tallahassee Magazine scholars on a mission to make a difference

Photo by Saige Roberts

They’re eager to explore the world. Most of all, they’re determined to change it.

Tallahassee Magazine’s Top Seniors for 2020 aspire to careers in law, writing, teaching, science, health care, pharmacy, therapy, diplomacy, urban planning, military service, environmentalism and veterinary medicine.

Florida High’s Nicholas Kraemer says he wants to start by learning more about the world. “I want to find solutions to complex problems and expand the extent of human scientific knowledge,” he said.

Some plan to champion women’s issues or to use an advanced degree, including in law, to help protect the most vulnerable. In response to a question about the person who inspires them the most, two named Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan.

All became our Top Seniors based on nominations from 13 high schools in Tallahassee and Thomasville, Georgia. We asked a guidance counselor from each of those high schools to send us the name of a graduating senior of good character who was well rounded in academics and extracurricular activities — and who was going places, as we put it.

We then asked each Top Senior to complete a questionnaire that asked general questions including: post-graduation plans, serious questions including a local, national or global problem they’d like to solve; and light-hearted questions, including what they considered their spirit animal.

“Sometimes I’m like a bottlenose dolphin, analytical and caring, but other days I’m like a black tip shark, a little bit feisty and willing to fight till the end,” wrote Leon High’s Lily Rogers.

You’ll find some of the Top Seniors’ responses, edited for length and clarity, on the following pages, and you’ll find their full responses at

Some of our favorite responses came from our question about whether the students saw the world as a glass half empty or half full. Our group of thinkers and scientists taught us a thing or two. Wrote Madeleine Roberts of Maclay School, who listed professor as her dream job: “Technically, the glass is completely full; let’s not forget the nitrogen, oxygen and other miscellaneous gas molecules bouncing around.”

Joey Jung – Lincoln High School

Post-graduation plans: Attend a four-year university and major in either public policy or urban studies.

Dream job: Urban planner: They have a unique opportunity to shape communities on a very personal level. A good urban planner is creative, makes relationships within their district and works hard to improve people’s lives —— all things I’m excited to do. 

Favorite high school memory: Last summer when I traveled down to the Florida Keys with my friends. The car was cramped, we got stormed on, we were on a shoestring budget and we had a blast. 

One problem he’d like to solve: Our lives, by all measures, should be getting better. But in the middle of exponential improvement, our mental health has been left behind: Depression and anxiety are hitting record highs, and life satisfaction is decreasing to alarming levels. I want to let people know it’s OK to have these problems, personal well-being is important, and that there is always a way forward. Being successful without being happy is, in my eyes, a missed opportunity to live life to the fullest. 

Favorite Tallahassee characteristic: Our diversity. I’m forever thankful for all the people I met living here.

Categories: Top Seniors 2020