Caps off to Irvine’s Class of 2018

Julia Gonik, a Northwood High graduate, is MIT‑bound

by Tracy Childs

In June, high school seniors collected their diplomas from the Irvine Unified School District as newly minted members of the Class of 2018. Each has his or her own impressive story of achievements — and hopes and dreams — to tell. Julia Gonik, a Northwood High grad who is MIT‑bound, talks about hers.

Why MIT?

I plan on studying electrical engineering and computer science. I think computer science is the closest thing we have to actual magic, and I love seeing how lines of code can be transformed into products and services that benefit people all over the world.

Long-term career goals?

I plan to pursue a PhD in computer science because I’d like to do research in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning. I’m particularly interested in self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, so I would love to pursue a career related to the development of autonomous technology.

Best part about attending Northwood High?

The lessons and teachers greatly shaped my academic goals.

They allowed me to develop my passion for the application of knowledge through engineering by providing opportunities to perform hands-on labs and experiments. In addition, through all of my fellow students at Northwood and the activities I’ve been a part of, such as the swim team, Make A Wish club, and Girls Who Code, I have learned the power of cooperation in both problem-solving and individual growth.

Lessons learned from the school’s swim team?

Swimming is a very mentally taxing sport because swimmers have to put in countless hours of grueling, sometimes monotonous, work in the pool without seeing immediate results. This tough schedule with more than 20 hours of training per week in addition to schoolwork has taught me to manage my time between practices and homework. As one of the team captains, I oversaw the development of true camaraderie among Northwood’s swimmers; when we all take our individual grit and passion and use it to work toward the common goal of scoring points for our team, we can achieve astounding results.

Among Julia’s many other accomplishments: School record holder in the 100 breaststroke and 200 medley relay; National Merit finalist; Renaissance Award recipient reserved for students in the top 1% of their class in multiple distinctly different disciplines.