On the extremely rare occasion that the Camellia Ye comes to a full day of school (instead of going to Florida for All-Nationals, casually jetting to Oxford, or her “mental health” days), you might wonder who is that mysterious girl that struts the halls of Wheatley? With her main fashion statements being athletic shorts in the harshest winter days, high socks and Birkenstocks, and her Dora-like hair, it is quite easy to be confused by her presence. I once had these same thoughts; and that is why I am writing this today, in order to attempt to explain the once-in-a-generation genius that is Camellia Ye.
Camellia is a writer and romantic at heart. You can often find her spending her nights, instead of completing college applications, writing sonnets for her pure enjoyment. While many students would find this impressive, Camellia’s AP Lit peers find difficulty appreciating this ability since her talent led them to have to write sonnets of their own and then to analyze one of Camellia’s sonnets for almost an entire class period. Camellia loves to read, and anytime you bring up books to her, she will proceed to go into a lengthy discussion of the Victorian novels she read in her youth that greatly shaped her psyche or the philosophical ideas behind her newest read. Nevertheless, Camellia does not only enjoy reading and writing, but she is amazing at both, too. She has won various awards and recognitions: Scholastic Arts and Writing, Teen Ink Editors Choice, NCTE Achievement in Writing, the National High School Poetry Contest, editor-in-chief of Wheatley’s Vintage Magazine, and section editor of the Op-Ed section of The Wildcat.
Camellia is a renowned cellist who is part of the All-State, All-Eastern, and All-National orchestras. She is also Co-President of Wheatley’s chapter of the Tri-M music honor society. However, Camellia is not a traditional musician. Breaking her finger a month before All-State last year, in gym class playing volleyball I might add, yet continuing to play, shows her true dedication to the instrument. As her own teacher reveals, “Camellia lacks a few classical technique skills and discipline, but she is a very lucky girl.” Yet, if anything describes her cello career, it is that she started her All-Nationals audition video 30 minutes before the deadline and still made it. Even with her flaws, Camellia still enjoys classical music, and if you ever have the honor of getting in a car with her, trust me, choose life and do not do it. She will blast “Ride of the Valkyries” by Richard Wagner for you while you pray for your life throughout the drive.
If that is not enough for you, Camellia is a star athlete and holds school records in cross country. However, she did not start out as a runner and, until recently, swam at an extremely competitive, national level. Come to think of it, maybe swimming is the reason for her odd obsession with everything water. Camellia never stops talking about how much she loves the rain, and as a child she used to go outside naked and take showers when it rained – see I told you my attempt to understand. Additionally, she is in a long-term relationship with her Hydro Flask, which she gifted both her turtle sticker and friendship bracelet. Though I must admit she is not quite loyal to her water bottle, as she loses it on a regular basis, but she begs Patagonia for new stickers for her beloved canteen in order to make up for it.
When swimming resulted in a shoulder injury that put her in physical therapy for a summer and the 25 hour per week time commitment becoming too much, Camellia started to find enjoyment in other things, namely hiking. Camellia is now, as she describes, a self-proclaimed “environmental freak” and an activist for National Park preservation. More importantly, her favorite colors are “Earth tones”-the colors of rocks, sand, dirt, oceans, and trees- like that is a thing, I know. Camellia has traveled all over the United States and the world to visit various natural wonders. In the last year she has gone to Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with plans to go to Patagonia during winter break and climb Mount Rainier this summer. Camellia is additionally a large advocate for sun protection, especially if it makes you look like a rice paddy farmer, and styles her hiking gear to complement her wide brim hats and large boots. However, Camellia has gotten her fair share of battle scars from such endeavors, most notably when she came to school in a homemade cast after she fell in the rain during a local hike and when she received a 5 inch gash down her chest after attempting to climb a tree, but no pain, no gain- right?
So do you want to be like Camellia? Well, while I strongly advise against it, she does live by one mantra: don’t care. Sometimes you have to not care what other people think and do what you want because in the end you will be happier. And living with that in mind is what the Camellia Ye believes is the key to success.