Maybe you’ve seen him running around at the bottom of the Carmel High School amphitheater before, performing impeccable jump dives to catch a rogue Frisbee during school lunch. Or maybe you’ve seen him working on robots, titrating a solution, filming documentaries or acting in a play.
Senior Henry Kou is no ordinary CHS student—he is a jack of all trades when it comes to life. From traveling the world and building robots to videography and a future home in Los Angeles, Kou’s horizons are ever-expanding and ever-changing.
In the fall, the senior will be attending the University of California, Los Angeles, to study electrical engineering, a major with high selectivity. Kou was part of the 102,000-strong applicant pool for the campus, to which only roughly 18 percent were admitted. But what about his journey so far?
Globetrotting before the age of 18? Check. Exploring what the United States has to offer? Check. The traveler touts an impressive registry of locations scattered across the world that he has been able to visit, including China, Taiwan, New York, Missouri and more.
But traveling is about more than just seeing the world—it is about perspective, according to Kou.
“Traveling is about seeing the world and broadening your perspective, so you can have more empathy for others,” he says. “I think that’s something that is lacking in today’s society.”
Traveling may have been one of the sparks to ignite his passion for videography and filmmaking. Kou is known on and off the CHS campus for his videography and video editing skills. He frequently posts his videos on YouTube, which include sports documentaries, parodies, vlogs, travel and robotics compilations.
One of his most recent videos, “The Extra Mile: An Original Sports Documentary,” chronicles the growing pains, seasonal struggles, along with the camaraderie and uniqueness of cross country running and the CHS team. In the video, Kou reports equal parts pleasure and equal parts pain of the endurance sport, citing the fun had while high altitude running at Mt. Shasta to the mental challenges associated with the races.
“I tracked—no pun intended—the CHS cross country team over their entire season, filming all the practices, meets, pep talks and interviewing runners on the team,” the videographer says. “The biggest takeaway that I had from making this film was seeing how a team can come together when faced with a series of challenges, and I saw how the team became more cohesive by comparing the footage from the beginning and the end of the season.”
Currently, he has 234 subscribers and hopes that this number grows in the future, for multiple reasons.
“But aside from the fact that I’m a fame-craving monster,” Kou jokes, “I simply just enjoy making quality content and sharing it with others to show my perspective of the world. That creator-viewer connection is a strong motivator for me.”
Another noteworthy video is the “FRC Team 2035 Chairman’s Award Video 2016,” which won the CHS Robotics team the Silicon Valley Regional Chairman’s Award for excellence and community outreach and currently has over 3,300 views.
Kou, acting as the 2035 team vice president and co-captain, is one of the three student representatives of the Chairman’s Award Team, with seniors Abby Lambert and Jack Brewer on the Chairman’s as well.
“Henry plays a part on the technical aspect of the team as well as the physical aspect,” senior Hannah Kim notes. “He helps build the robot and do part of the machine programming, in addition to the write-ups for awards.”
Of course, robotics has been an integral part of Kou’s CHS experience, and he believes that it has not only made the biggest impact on him, but that he wouldn’t be the person he is today without it. Kou started out as a parts manufacturer but has transformed into programmer and co-captain on the Robo Rockin’ Bots and has been with the team for all four years of high school.
“One of the things that you witness through looking at things on the management level is how important it is to sometimes step back and let the process run itself,” the programmer says. “Over time, I feel like the team has gradually become more self-sufficient, which has been a product of a variety of off-season workshops and increased student participation.”
Henry Kou has proved to be a vital part of the robotics team, not only by what he does on the robot and his leadership skills, but by the traits he exhibits in the shop.
“He is definitely a leader. He is the type that handles group situations and is always the peacemaker,” Kim says. “Although he isn’t the forceful type, he doesn’t need to be to earn our respect.”
Kou’s activities don’t simply end there—he also is a part of the CHS drama department, despite only joining his senior year.
“It is always a joy to see Henry perform because you never know what he is going to come up with,” CHS drama teacher Gracie Poletti says. “He makes surprisingly delightful choices—choices that I never expect from ‘serious student Henry Kou.’ He has repeatedly cracked me up with his out-of-the-box choices.”
And it is not just about test scores or GPAs; a testament to his hard work both in and out of school, dedication to his passions and overall drive, the future Bruin thinks that this culmination is a momentous step towards a successful future.
“I feel that UCLA is a great place for me to expand upon all the interests that I’ve cultivated at Carmel High,” he says. “My education is the strongest asset that I have, and I definitely place lots of pride into taking the next step at university.”
No matter what happens, the future is bright with Henry Kou in it, and as for what the future holds, he remains eager and optimistic that great things will happen.
“After reaching out and experiencing all that’s happened,” the senior notes, “I can’t wait for what the future holds for me.”