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EPISD Student Spotlight: Christina Li, Coronado High

Photo of Christina Li Photo of Christina Li

(CORONADO HIGH SCHOOL -- Sept. 28, 2021) — Besides being one of El Paso’s five 2022 National Merit Semifinalists, Coronado High’s Christina Li is an accomplished cellist and debater. Even with such a busy schedule, the International Baccalaureate student still finds time to intern at UTEP’s Office of Technology Commercialization, which has sparked her interest in entrepreneurship. EPISD Community Engagement recently sat down with Li to talk about her experiences and plans after high school.

EPISD: What are your honors and achievements in high school?

CHRISTINA LI: I am an AP Scholar with Distinction, a Texas Music Scholar and an Academic letterman. I placed in the top 10 for Le Grand Concours, a national French competition. I am on the Coronado High Q team that has won multiple tournaments and qualified for nationals. I was first place overall in the Texas Region II Academic Decathlon Competition and third place in Interview in Texas. I was a finalist in the National Hispanic Institute Great Debate, as well as a Justice at the Lorenzo De Zavala Youth Legislative Session. I represent Academic Decathlon and IB at the Coronado President’s Round Table.

EPISD: What activities are you involved in at school?

CL: I am a cello section leader in Varsity Orchestra, a High Q team captain, the President and Founder of Music Appreciation Club, an Honors Team member for Academic Decathlon, the treasurer and co-founder of Model United Nations, and the representative for Academic Decathlon and IB at the President’s Round Table. I also am involved in UIL Science, National Honor Society, Class of 2022 Executive Committee and WeFillintheBlank.

EPISD: Tell us about your experience and accomplishments in debate?

CL: I have competed in the Extemporaneous Speaking debate category through the National Hispanic Institute (NHI). I have also judged other debate categories like Cross Examination and Mock Trial. I was a finalist in Extemporaneous Speaking at the 2019 NHI Texas Ambassador Great Debate. I like how debate enables me to skillfully express my voice and I also value the speaking abilities and confidence I gain from debate. In addition to making the finals in the Great Debate, another accomplishment has been being selected as Head Coach of the NHI at El Paso region.

EPISD: What’s it like to be an intern at UTEP? How is it going to help you in college and your future?

CL: I have interned at the UTEP Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) under the mentorship of Dr. Zhang. My job is essentially to promote UTEP intellectual property to industry and assist startups with company formation. One way I help achieve this is by connecting UTEP professors and students with the resources they need. I created a UTEP Startup Resource Guide featuring eight programs across Texas that help startups with grants and mentorship. I am currently working on a project to feature UTEP startups the OTC has worked with in the past to increase visibility and engagement. Every research college has an OTC, so this internship has prepared me to continue my work at whatever college I end up at. Through my internship, I have also developed a new passion for entrepreneurship that I might consider further exploring in the future.

EPISD: What do you look forward to most this school year—especially after more than a year of virtual school?

CL: I am looking forward to spending more time with friends and celebrating our senior year. I am also looking forward to a return to in-person events for all the organizations I am a part of. 

EPISD: Why is it important to you to volunteer and give back to your community?

CL: Volunteering is important to me because it allows me to show my appreciation for the community that has provided me with so much support and opportunity. Since moving to El Paso, the city has become my home, so I give back to my community as a sign of true gratitude.

EPISD: How has being in IB helped you prepare for college and beyond?

CL: IB has provided me with incredible opportunities to develop my academic and personal skills in preparation for college and beyond. For example, in IB, we take a class called Theory of Knowledge in which we reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. Another requirement for our IB Diploma is an Extended Essay (essentially a mini thesis). We conduct research, work with a mentor, and write a 4,000-word essay outside of class. The critical thinking, research, writing, and time-management skills I have developed through IB will be invaluable to me in the future. IB has also taught me to be a better global citizen with an open mind and a readiness to change the world.

EPISD: What advice would you give to freshman?

CL: Manage your time, have your priorities and do what interests you. There’s no wrong answer for how to approach high school. The most important thing is to spend time finding and developing your passions. Also, don’t procrastinate.

EPISD: How are you preparing for college?

CL As I mentioned earlier, one very important way I am preparing for college is studying in the IB Program. I am also preparing for college by reading. Literature, interesting science journals, the news, blogs—I like to read everything. Reading has developed a strong foundation of knowledge and intellectual curiosity within me that I believe will help me in college.

EPISD: Where do you plan to go to college and what do you plan to major in?

CL: I am not certain where I will be attending college yet, but some of my dream schools include Princeton, UPenn, and MIT. I have also considered using my IB Diploma to study in Europe. In general, I would like to major in something related to finance, engineering, computer science, and/or statistics. I would also like to minor in art history and/or French.

EPISD: Anything you’d like to add?

CL To my family, friends, teachers, administrators, and everyone else important in my life, thank you.

Interview by Reneé de Santos