Sungjoo Yoon, rising senior at Burbank High School and Los Angeles High School Insider Intern. (Photo courtesy of Sungjoo Yoon)

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The best of both worlds; Sungjoo Yoon showcases the importance of the debate community through his writing

Sungjoo Yoon is able to find a balance between his two biggest passions and capture their essence by advocating for their importance.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/valeriamacias11/" target="_self">Valeria Macias</a>

Valeria Macias

August 1, 2022
For some of us, it might be hard to find a balance between doing several things we are passionate about but also the academic challenges of high school. For Sungjoo Yoon, this was not an issue he faced.

Growing up in Burbank, Calif., this rising senior is a typical honors student with rigorous class schedules and several time-consuming extracurriculars. However, when diving in deeper, the drive and potential that separates him from the rest are visible — mixing his passion for the world of journalism and the rigorous world of speech and debate.

This summer, Yoon has been able to incorporate both elements together and found a balance between both worlds. 

(Photo courtesy of Sungjoo Yoon)

The realm of high school debate is one of Yoon’s biggest focuses and is his main hobby. Congressional and World’s debate is something he does competitively and represents Burbank High School on many podiums. With a relatively new debate program at his school, he has been able to set the foundation for this program that has and will open doors to many.

Nevertheless, everyone needs stress-free activities that alleviate their minds. Yoon, like every typical teenager, spends his free time binge-watching Netflix or playing chess. 

In the early beginnings of high school, he was part of his school’s varsity baseball team. However, it can get hard to balance so much at such a young age. Ultimately, he made the decision to leave the sport and focus on other things.

He also formed part of his school’s key club but most of his volunteer work is done outside the organization. Most importantly, he is part of his school’s journalism club where he aids in the production of the school newspaper.

In his first year as a political writer in the class, there was always more room to grow and show potential, which led him to become editor-in-chief of the journalism class by his second year. Not only did he show his leadership skills with his position but also by being one of the only ones in the class to know how to use the design software. Since then, he has stepped back from his role and primarily focused on independent writing. 

As a young leader, he founded a chess club at his middle school. This activity was something he spent the majority of his pre-teen years doing. 

As for strange coincidences, Yoon was introduced to journalism through a recommendation from a counselor who thought it would suit him. Surely enough, it did.

“From that point on, I remember joining the class, writing for the first time, learning how to write and seeing all this wonderful stuff and meeting wonderful people and being able to be a part of something like the school newspaper,” he said. “It had a very profound impact on me. At that point, I was just very drawn to it.” 

Sungjoo Yoon and his debate team. (Photo courtesy of Sungjoo Yoon)

Being able to speak his mind through his writing, he decided to mix his two passions and create a writing piece on the world of debate. Both of these activities are what he finds the most meaning in and he has been able to find the intersection between journalism and debate.

As someone who has deeply explored these activities, he explains how they’re very similar if you look into them.

“One of them is in written form and the other one is just verbalized,” he said.

Through his pieces of writing, he hopes to make people aware of how great debate is and how much it can help young students. Yoon explains how debate is able to guide you through every walk of life — teaching you portable skills, educating you, teaching you how to research and uplifting student voices. 

This summer with the L.A. Times, he wishes to learn everything he doesn’t know yet and all the angles to this profession but most importantly to assume the day-to-day role of a journalist. Since most of his work in journalism is based on a smaller scale, he hopes to take on this role and push his limits. 

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