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Making A Difference In Lives Around the Globe

Little did Katherine Choi know one year ago when she applied for a seat on a prestigious panel that her life would change this much.
As recently as this past Sunday, Choi, a junior at San Marino High School, participated in a worldwide conference call trying to affect policy for young people and their online habits.
On April 10, 2017, just a single day after her birthday, Choi received an email informing her that she had been chosen from an application pool of thousands as a Microsoft Ambassador on its Council for Digital Good. Since that day (“I cried when I found out I was selected”), Choi has served as one of 15 young ambassadors from across the USA who shape and evaluate Microsoft’s online safety policy agenda.
In August, Choi attended a three-day training program on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington, which focused on improving online civility.
“We deal with a wide variety of online subjects such as online bullying, sexting, online terrorism and how youth are being affected online,” Choi said. “There were cameras everywhere. We wanted to give Microsoft an idea of how we interact online, to make Microsoft better understand how kids are using their products and strive for a better internet.”
This past Sunday, Choi and the other 14 members of Microsoft’s panel took part in a Skype conference call with SID4KIDS, a similar group that is based in Europe.
“In May, the General Data Protection Regulation is trying to set an age limit of 13-16 in Europe for digital consent, with each European Union nation setting its own standard,” Choi said. “It’s becoming a major legal issue. They want parents to sign consent forms. A decision is expected in May.”
Katherine was a victim of online bullying herself, “but it wasn’t severe,” she added. Choi brought up a now-defunct site called ASK FM that circulated anonymous questionnaires.
“A lot of kids were victimized by it,” Choi said. “Many of my friends ended up getting targeted until it was eventually shut down. It was a sensitive time.”
When not studying or trying to make the world a better place for her peers, Choi enjoys making music.
“Music has been a huge part of my life,” she said. “I started playing the piano in kindergarten and then picked up the violin in 4th grade. That’s a little bit later than most kids. At Huntington Middle School, I got involved in orchestra with Mr. [Rob] Folsom. He is so passionate about music. The class was zero period and it allowed me to find a group that I liked. I fell in love with music.”
Katherine has since added the guitar and ukulele to her arsenal and plays at the philharmonic level with the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra. She is also currently in the San Marino High School Symphonic Orchestra and was also the soloist for the Pasadena Summer Youth Chamber Orchestra.
It’s a skill set that runs in the family. Katherine’s older brother, Alex, is a 2016 graduate of San Marino High School attending the University of Washington. He plays the piano.
As does Katherine’s twin, Kevin.
She also dances and has earned starring roles in Pasadena Dance Theater’s “The Nutcracker.”
Another “starring role” is played in Katherine’s life by her mother, Christina Kim.
“My mom has kept me motivated to strive for a better version of me and not anyone else, and I think that is really important to foster children in that kind of atmosphere instead of competing against others,” Katherine said. “She can make me laugh until I run out of breath and deliver the most comforting words whenever I need it. A few years ago, our family definitely faced rough times but I think our relationship has become stronger due to it. I never realized the extent of my mom’s sacrifices until recently and I want to finally say a big ‘thank you’ to mom for everything. I love you.”


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