MILL CREEK — Dartagnan Phan, a senior at Henry M Jackson High School, gets to know many of the school’s 2,400 students in his role as student body president. Phan also stays busy as an athlete, academic superstar, tutor and more.
Question: You’re Associated Student Body president this year. Tell me about that.
Answer: I’m in the head of all the meetings we have. I’m the main communicator between a lot of events and activities. It’s a lot of remembering to do this and that. Right now I’m working on the Veterans Day assembly.
Q: You’ve been in leadership since sixth grade?
A: The first year was fun, but I didn’t know the purpose of it. I thought it was important. But what does it mean? Last year I really noticed that it does make a big difference to other students and staff, even if this difference is not easily measurable. This difference is seen in the small kind gestures made by others and myself that boost someone’s mood. It’s a combination of these little things that create a better surrounding atmosphere in the school.
Q: You started a Twitter account this year called “People of JHS.”
A: I’ll sit at a random table and ask (a student) if I can interview them. I’ll ask them some general questions, like favorite TV shows and stuff. … It’s cool getting to know people on that level. The people I’ve talked to, now I see them in the hall and say “hi” and we sometimes get to talking. We have 2,400 people in the school. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible (to get to them all), but it’s just more opportunities. With more people, there’s more relationships.
Q: You’re involved in quite a bit. Varsity wrestling and tennis. Spirit Club. Link Crew, where you mentor freshmen. National Honor Society.
A: Being in different clubs offers me different perspectives of school itself. … I can also find new ways to serve. And I get to meet a lot of cool people.
Q: You mentioned you are a tutor?
A: I don’t have time for an actual job. But one of my neighbors posted on Facebook that her son needed help with pre-calculus. So every Tuesday and Thursday I help him with pre-calc.
Q: You take a challenging class load that includes four college-level classes and maintain a near-perfect GPA.
A: I have all A’s except sophomore year I got (an) A-minuses in “AP World History.” History is not my thing.
Q: You start your day at school at leadership class.
A: It’s at 6:30 a.m. — sharp. It’s fun, though. It’s worth it. … Sleep is important, but so is helping others.
Q: You say motivational speaker John Norlin’s advice on “actions first, and then feelings later” was influential.
A: I do something because it’s something I feel is important … (even if) I’m feeling like I don’t want to do it.
Q: Who else inspires you?
A: My ASB adviser (Alan Briggs) — I love Briggs. … He guides us but he doesn’t control us. He lets us make our own mistakes. Also my wrestling coach, coach (Sherm) Iversen. His trust in us to work hard for the team and not because he told us to … it allows us to grow not just as wrestlers, but as leaders as well.
Q: You’re applying to universities across the country. What are your plans?
A: I’ll probably pursue pre-med through undergraduate and then transfer to medical school. I’ve always been interested in the sciences and medicine. My mom is a nurse. I’d ask her a specific question, and she’ll go on for about 45 minutes about the whole body system. It’s kept me interested in this field of study.
Q: How does it feel to be a senior?
A: It doesn’t feel like I’ve been a senior. For years, I’ve always been looking up to them. They seemed so much older. Now I’m a senior, and I don’t feel that way. … It’s weird knowing that a lot of the things I’m doing now, it will be the last time I’m doing them. It’s a huge concept to grasp. I don’t think I quite get it yet.
Q: Any advice for freshmen?
A: Keep yourself busy. Take advantage of any opportunities given to you.
Q: OK, I have to ask about your name…
A: The fourth Musketeer was the one I was named after. … My mom heard the name Dartagnan three or four times in the same week. … In all these random moments she heard this name, she decided, “We’ve got to name him Dartagnan.”
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3432.