Neurosurgery and the classics

Future doctor says studying Homer and Shakespeare was a huge fave in high school.

Last summer, a paper detailing research completed at the University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, was released in Elsevier Research Selection (ERS), a bi-weekly newsletter for (science) journalists who receive updates about published research. 

Titled "Statins reduce TGF-beta2-modulation of the extracellular matrix in cultured astrocytes of the human optic nerve head," the paper discussed how statins that are cholesterol-lowering drugs have demonstrated beneficial effects on treating glaucoma.

Along with a number of researchers and students from the University of Ulsan, recently graduated Notre Dame Prep student and valedictorian Joonhee Jang was a co-author of the paper.

Now armed with a Notre Dame Prep diploma, Jang will soon be a university student himself as he heads to the University of Notre Dame in the fall. And medicine will continue to be a focus for him as his career plans include becoming a surgeon.

"I have always wanted to become a doctor, but throughout most of high school, I've narrowed it down to a neurosurgery specialty," he said. "At UND, I will be majoring in pre-professional studies which is a pre-med major dedicated to helping students like me get into medical school. I am planning also to do something in business – probably a minor in business." 

And just like virtually every alum from NDP, Jang is heading to college ready for those academic challenges. But, he said, his high school also prepared him for more. Much more. 

"I think NDP really does a good job preparing students for their future college education, which will in turn help us get good careers or get us into grad school," said Jang, who was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated high school with a 4.497 GPA. "But not only were we taught to become good scholars, we also were taught to continue living moral lives full of integrity and Christian values. In addition, I think that participating in sports, band, and the various clubs helped me find new friends and broaden my social circle. In fact, I found a second family in my student council peers, who are honestly some of the best kids I have ever worked alongside."

Jang also notes that while he's had a number of great classes during his four years at NDP, one in particular stands out.

"Mrs. [Julie] Carman's freshman honors comp class will forever be one of my favorite classes of all time," he said. "Learning about the Odyssey or Romeo and Juliet might seem boring to some people, and admittedly I've never been a huge reader to begin with, but I always looked forward to that class. We always had some fun classroom activity to help us understand the works of literature or to help us write with more finesse. Plus, Mrs. Carman related with the students really well, so the teacher-student atmosphere was never a problem."

Jang said he also enjoyed the many conversations he had with a couple of other teachers on pop culture.

"I always enjoyed nerding out about Marvel/DC or Star Wars with Mr. Stan [Daniel Staniszewski] and Mr. [Kyle] Lilek," he said. "We would have casual conversations about new movies, TV shows or comic book timelines. I think this goes to show how the teachers at NDP are not only effective educators, but also people who students can comfortably talk to about non school-related topics."

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at