Montverde Academy’s Alumni and Development Office has been reaching out to recent alumni over the summer to learn more about their current lives and life aspirations since graduating from Montverde Academy.   Now a rising senior attending the University of California Berkeley,  located in Berkeley, California, 2012 Montverde Academy graduate Chongqiao “Claire” Xiong, a native of Dalian, Liaoning, China, is featured in the most recent installment of’s Alumni Spotlight.  

Claire was her graduating class’s salutatorian, and the following set of questions are from an interview conducted with Claire over the Academy’s 2015’s summer break.


 1.     What do you wish you would have known “your first day” of college/university?

 I wish someone had told me that GPA really matters in college. College is not the end of hard working, but the start.


 2.    How did the Academy’s curriculum prepare you for college/university life?

 Taking 10 AP courses gave me a head start in college.


 3.    What else do you feel you need to learn as you continue your academic life and prepare for your work career?

 How to properly present yourself to others.


 4.    What are some of the toughest problems you have had to deal with as a college student?

 Balancing social life, studying, and study.


5.    What influenced your decision to attend your college/university school of choice?

I think geographic location matters a lot. When I was making the decision, I wanted to spend my college years in a place that is fun but also good for my future career path. I chose Berkeley because it is the best public research institution in the world and close to the heart of Silicon Valley. 


6.    How much interaction do you still have with other students you graduated with from MVA?

I visit some of my best friends from high school very often. One of my friend, Jessica Thompson, is now attending school in Florida State. We’ve been writing to each other in mails since graduation. 


7. In your own experiences, what are some attributes of individuals/students who are most successful?

 I consider Travis Kalanick to be my role model. He co-founded Uber.  He has great insights into the world and is never afraid to challenge authority.


8. Most colleges/universities possess strong leadership, diversity, and outstanding curriculums. What makes your school unique?

Berkeley is a very interesting school, the birthplace of many contemporary movements. It is very innovative and proactive. Some of the most creative ideas come from fellow classmates’ conversations. Here, students are not bounded by limitations. They are encouraged to use their knowledge to power this world.


9. How strong is alumni support at your college/university?

Alumni network is great at Berkeley. Wherever I travel to, I will find alumni support.


10. If you had to do all over again, what would you do differently as a student at MVA?

I guess I would try to be more social. During my time at MVA, I was too focused on academics and didn’t really interact much with other students.  If I had to do all over again, I will definitely work on developing a stronger bond with my classmates.