Adapting a phrase that was attributed to professional baseball announcer Ralph Kiner, a local sportswriter once said that “two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, the other one-third is covered by Charis Chung.”
Kiner’s comment referred to speedy outfielder Garry Maddox, but anyone who has ever seen San Marino High School softball center fielder Chung in action knows that you’d better not blink or you could miss quite a show.
Chung also is outstanding in other fields, and the senior was recently named the Rotary Club of San Marino’s student of the month for January.
“Charis is an amazing student who has a true heart for others and an ambition to make a major difference in our world,” said SMHS Principal Jason Kurtenbach as he introduced her at Thursday’s virtual club meeting. Kurtenbach added that Chung has an academic schedule completely filled with honors and Advanced Placement classes, and that she is “excelling in every single one of them.”
The eldest of six children, Chung has volunteered for several years at STARS nonprofit organization. The acronym stands for Students and Tutors Achieving Real Success.
“She even studied Spanish so she could better communicate with the families of the students she serves,” Kurtenbach explained.
Aside from the Titan varsity softball team, Chung is active at SMHS in the ACTS and Girls Up clubs, Link Crew, speech and debate, and Titan Musings — the school’s literary magazine. The daughter of Glenda and Francis Chung, Charis is currently looking at schools in the Boston area and hopes to major in neuroscience and minor in economics.
“I want to help those in need who have mental health issues,” said Chung, who also volunteers on SMHS’ Titan Wellness council. “I have a passion for working with disadvantaged people, especially young people, and I hope to continue that work in college.”
She also hopes to continue that fine softball career and wouldn’t mind robbing opponents of some base hits through her fielding prowess. “I hope to continue to play softball in college and have been talking to the coaches at MIT and Wellesley,” she said. I am also open to attending college in California.”
Chung’s relentlessly positive attitude even pierced the remote transmission of the meeting. She said the COVID-19 lockdown and elimination of in-person learning have allowed her to “spend more time with my family.”
“I even was able to help one of my little sisters learn how to read because she is in the 1st grade,” Chung said with a broad smile. “Being the eldest of six is a lot of fun, especially during quarantine when there isn’t really a quiet moment. It’s also quite hectic, as I’m sure you can imagine. The three oldest children — me, my brother and one of my younger sisters — are all athletes, playing softball, football and gymnastics, respectively, so prior to quarantine there was a lot of driving around and competitions. The age gap between my youngest sister and me is 15 years, and I’ve helped ‘raise’ the three youngest, in a sense, so much that a lot of people refer to me as the ‘second mom’ of the family. Even now, sometimes my little sisters come in during class to play with my phone or sit on my lap.”
She has also found productive ways to spend her newly discovered “extra time” revealed by the pandemic.
“I enjoy doing things I didn’t have time to do in the past when I was driving all over the place because of softball and because I have a ton of other extracurricular activities,” Chung said. “Not being able to see my friends has been tough, but it also gives a clear perspective of the human need for interaction. Humans are social creatures and we need to put effort into our relationships. Especially people who are struggling with quarantine. I am just trying to tell people it’s going to be OK and help people have a more positive outlook on life.”