One in 2000: Jensen Pak

Jensen Pak ’18 Photo courtesy Sophie Chatas

California-resident and classics aficionado Jensen Pak ’18 has had a busy first year at the College. We sat down with him to talk about his wide range of interests and the many understatedly funny stories he has collected this year.

Where did your interest in Latin come from?

I started in fifth grade, in elementary school, basically just because the Spanish program at my school sucked, and they had just started offering Latin, and my brother had taken it, too, so I thought I might as well try it. One of the things that we did at our school was called the Junior Classical League, which was a state convention. Basically I went to that every year, and there were different competitions, like quiz bowl, and different tests that you would take. I don’t know, it was just really interesting to me, that people from literally all over the place would take the time to study Latin and be into it. It was a really nerdy convention, but it was one of my favorite things to do every year.

Have you done anything else relating to Latin?

Yeah, so for a while, I was number one in California for Roman History on QuizUp.

That’s awesome. So are you thinking of majoring in classics? 

Yeah, right now I’m considering double majoring in bio and classics, but I might just drop bio and just do a classics major.

Could you see classics being a big component of your life after college?

Probably not, I mean it’s purely an academic interest because I’m also on the pre-med track. So, career-wise, I don’t see much of a future in classics.

What did you do last summer?

Last summer I was in Korea, because I’m a bad Korean, so I was trying to learn Korean. But it was a pretty lax program, so I didn’t learn that much. But it was fun.

Any highlights?

When I went to Korean League [of Legends] games. I’ve been playing that for too long. Korea has always been the best at League, so that was cool.

What are your plans for this summer?

I’m doing medical research at Cedars Sinai in LA, basically with genetic mechanisms behind obesity and diabetes.

What else are you involved with on campus?

I’m on the board for the Asian American Students in Action group. I’m also involved in the Chinese American Student Organization [and] Koreans of Williams groups. I’m one of the members of the upcoming woodworking club, actually, so I’m excited to be in that. And I’m also in club badminton. And I will be a WOOLF leader.

Were you involved with anything else in high school?

I was involved with the newspaper, I was the managing editor and editor-in-chief of the website. I was basically just in charge of monitoring all the daily inputs on the website, maintaining all the content that we put on there.

You went to Harvard-Westlake for high school. What was it like to go to a high school with Harvard in the name?

Well, all my Asian family members were very proud of me going to a Harvard. And I never corrected them.

[Laughs.] Back to WOOLF. What did you do for your creative project for WOOLF?

I made a fake dating profile, that was like “Looking for a Co,” and I just made it absurdly ridiculous.

So, what are you looking for in a co?

I’m really interested in finding someone that I don’t know at all. Obviously it’d be nice to be with someone I’m friends with, really cool with, but I just feel like WOOLF is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, I guess, because I don’t get to do stuff like this often, so I just really want this to be memorable.

I heard you had a funny experience during your WOOLF interview. How did that go?

I don’t understand how anyone found that funny, it was honestly the worst thing. This was during my WOOLF leader interview, and they basically picked an adjective and a fruit or a vegetable, and you had to act it out. And I got an aggressive yam, and I was literally just like, “How come they never put me in salads?” And then everyone cracked up, and I literally didn’t think it was funny at all.

And I heard you had a funny incident during WOOLF training?

Oh, I didn’t think that was that funny either! Ok, this was during the orientation for WOOLF leaders, and they were showing Web’s [Farabow ’18] creative project, which was some video, and they were projecting it in Paresky Auditorium but they didn’t use full screen on the projector. So I just leaned over to Margaret [Whitney ’18] and said, “What is this, a video for ants?” And apparently everyone heard me and just started laughing.

[Laughs.] Because it’s funny!

No, it’s not! Oh my god.

LF group had some interesting traditions?Younmentioned your WOO

Oh yeah, the chanting? People would chant my name. I don’t even remember how that started, to be honest. I feel like someone had to lead the trail, and then someone, it was probably Chris [Carley ’18], just started chanting my name, I think, and that’s how it started… I was so embarrassed [when we were walking back onto campus], we woke up all the JAs. That was early in the year. I was just like, I really hope people didn’t hear this.

What’s been your most embarrassing moment at Williams?

I think it was during First Days. When I went to go take a shower, I didn’t realize you had to pull the lever for the water to continue going, and so when I was taking my first shower, the water just started dying after a couple seconds. I was like, wait, is there no water here? And so I thought that you just had to take showers really quickly. For the first week of school, I just took the fastest showers, they were so fast, and I was like, this is ridiculous. But now I take normal showers.

You also got the nickname Blue Ivy within your entry, right? Why?

Just because people in this entry think that everyone in California is named Blue Ivy. That’s literally the reason.

Besides people’s misconceptions about California, what has surprised you most about coming to the College?

I’m not going to say this is a bad thing, but what I was most surprised with was the number of athletes here at Williams, actually. Because from what I thought about Williams, and it still is a very good academic institution, but I’m impressed by the number of student athletes here.

Where do you see the next few years going at Williams?

I don’t know. I’m just taking Williams one step at a time.

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