Amy Jin of Casa Grande High School. Press Democrat photo by John Burgess


Calling Amy Jin “driven” is an understatement.

The 17-year-old senior at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma moved the TV out of her room — “it was too much of a distraction.”

Other than keeping in touch with a few distant relatives, she’s not on Facebook.

“I like to be in the real world,” she said.

In the real world, Jin serves as the youth chairwoman of Petaluma’s Youth Commission, a city-sponsored committee of adults and teens involved in the community. She also is chairwoman of the Health Occupations Students of America at Casa.

For years, Jin has known she wants to work in the medical profession, at first wanting to be a physician. Then, she thought, maybe a lawyer. Why not combine the two? She’s thinking now she wants to become a medical lawyer.

Jin has made great use of Casa’s Career Center to plan her future.

After she “stumbled in one day,” she took an aptitude test, which suggested she might be a good lawyer. The counselor helped her become a volunteer intern with a Santa Rosa law firm that specializes in medical malpractice cases.

“She is very ambitious,” said retired physician Dennis Pocekay, the adult chairman of the Youth Commission and Jin’s mentor of the HOSA group at Casa.

“She’s quite a role model. She’s the most organized kid — and the most sure about where she’s headed,” Pocekay said.

With a grade-point average of about 4.5, Jin’s immediate ambitions point toward a top university. She’s awaiting word from Stanford and schools in New York and Washington, D.C., on her admission applications.

Jin said her drive and work ethic in part come from her father, who lived under the Mao Communist regime in China before immigrating to the U.S. His father was a teacher who was jailed under Mao and forced to hide his books.

“My dad read everything by oil lamp,” she said. “He basically read himself through high school. . . .  He inspires me.”

Her father earned a degree in engineering in New Jersey and later a Ph.D. in communications.

Jin speaks some Chinese and spent a summer in Peru learning Spanish, both of which she hopes to master. She is traveling to China this summer and will work to hone her language skills with relatives there.

With the Youth Commission, Jin has helped lead the group in several initiatives, including a youth employment project, a citywide diversity festival planned for early next year and a Teen Survivor challenge in which teams compete and raise funds for local charities.

In school, she said she doesn’t necessarily have a favorite class. She works hard at all of them.

“I’m very diligent,” she said. “If you practice and practice, eventually the achievement will come.”

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or

Age: 17
Birthplace: Syracuse, N.Y.
Lives with: Mother, father, grandmother, 15-year-old sister
What’s in her iPod: New Age Solo Piano, R&B, rock, country
Favorite hobbies: Badminton, piano
Dream job: Medical lawyer or politics
Favorite TV show: Doesn’t watch it
Favorite food: Santa Cruz Torta Truck fare
Quote: “Remember, life is a journey. You make it happen — act.”