Christopher Hak
Category: 2023 High School Winner

Christopher Hak

Usually, I’m not a massive fan of reading books so often, but when my English teacher gave me some book recommendations I stumbled across Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. Trevor Noah is a mixed figure who was raised in South Africa during Apartheid. In short, Apartheid was a racial segregation system put in place in Africa that separated many African tribes as well. Born a Crime, dives deep into Noah’s experiences growing up with Apartheid and how his family handled it, alongside some stories including the issue of his skin color as a mixed person in both the US and South Africa. Trevor Noah now has grown in success as a comedian, actor, former show host, producer, and political commentator. His struggles as an outcast in his life have created inspiration for me to not only make a difference in my own race but to make a mark on the world in many ways.

While I was born in the US, my family is from Cambodia, and came to the US in an attempt to escape the Cambodian Genocide. Compared to my peers at school, I’ve been exposed to many parts of Cambodian culture that have helped me shape who I’ve become like Trevor Noah. So when I read the way he felt as a mixed child in the middle of Apartheid I felt like he understood me. As I have grown, I’ve become prideful of my difference and have begun to embrace them rather than be embarrassed. I carry my culture everywhere I go and share it with everyone I interact with.

On that note, Trevor Noah has also helped me ease my worries about the major I intend to pursue. As an Asian-American entering the Architecture field, which is a dominantly white profession, I was afraid of not being able to succeed in it. However, with belief that my difference will help attribute to my work in that profession, my perception of architecture will always be from my cultural standpoint and potentially make a difference to the world and my culture.

However, I didn’t want to just create my legacy only through architecture. Like Trevor Noah, I wanted to accomplish many things that create everlasting effects on others. Therefore, I’ve taken up a passion for music as the principal player in my high school’s band program and dipped my toe into production and film. In addition, I never shy away from new hobbies or passions to expand my talents and become a huge influence to others as Trevor Noah was to me.

Trevor Noah has allowed me to become more confident in my abilities as a person and to not lose hope as a minority. He emphasizes to me that we shouldn’t let others drag our many complexities down. As Trevor Noah has embodied many roles and talents in his profession, he inspires me to try everything and champion my complexities not just as a minority, but as a human being.