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Class of 2020 Spotlight: Charles McCutcheon excels in Japanese, advocacy work

Charles McCutcheon is graduating from MAST Academy and will attend Brown University.
Charles McCutcheon is graduating from MAST Academy and will attend Brown University. (WPLG)

MIAMI – As part of Local 10’s continuing coverage of the Class of 2020, we’re celebrating the achievements of South Florida high school seniors and sharing some of their stories. This is the story of Charles McCutcheon.

Charles McCutcheon, 18, MAST Academy

If it’s a challenge, then Charles McCutcheon is up for it. After watching a Japanese cooking video at an early age, McCutcheon decided to learn the language. He picked up a Japanese textbook and taught himself to read.

His parents nourished his interest and found him tutors to help with the process. A few years and some classes later, McCutcheon is fluent in Japanese. McCutcheon is Level N1 Certified in Japanese, which is a graduate school level test. He also won the “Learning Japanese Overseas” writing contest and had his essay published in a Japanese magazine.

McCutcheon is also proficient in math and music. He volunteers his time teaching Japanese and math at Miami Hoshuko, a nonprofit Saturday school sponsored by the Japanese consulate. When he’s not teaching, he’s singing. He has been in a chorus class since he was in the fourth grade.

And when he’s not teaching or singing, you’ll find him engaged in some type of advocacy work. McCutcheon is the President and Founding Member of his high school’s National Association of Students Against Gun Violence. He’s also a volunteer for the Yes Institute, whose mission is to prevent suicide and ensure the healthy development of all youth through powerful communication and education on gender and orientation.

McCutcheon’s other academic achievements include: Vice President of the Maritime and Science Technology (MAST) chapter, winner of the UC Berkeley Book Award and two-time Best Speaker Award for Junior State of America (JSA) Debate.

McCutcheon has been accepted into several prestigious universities, including Columbia, Cornell and Dartmouth. He’s chosen to attend Brown University to study Linguistics and Computer Science.

About the Author:

Mayte Padron Cordones is an Emmy-award winning journalist and the director of WPLG's Community Relations Department, overseeing the station's outreach initiatives to benefit and strengthen the South Florida community.