Alumni Spotlight - Maxwell Ruckstuhl and Kelly Ruckstuhl

Every month we will feature a current student, teacher or alumni from CLIP to showcase on our blog. This month we are pleased to spotlight a brother and sister alumni pair, Maxwell and Kelly Ruckstuhl. If you are interested in being featured, contact

Tell us your name and grade/school and/or current occupation:

Maxwell Ruckstuhl
BS Physiology and Neuroscience, UCSD 2016
BA Psycholinguistics and Cognition, UCSD 2016
PhD student, University of Michigan Neuroscience Graduate Program

Kelly Ruckstuhl
UC Davis (2014-2017), double majored in Economics and International Relations
Currently at Marketing Evolution (marketing analytics/attribution SaaS) -- doing business development

What grade did you join the CLIP program, what year did you graduate from CLIP?

Maxwell: I joined in 3rd grade and graduated from CLIP in 2008.
Kelly: I joined in 1st grade and graduated in 8th grade in 2009.

What are some of your hobbies or special interests?

Maxwell: Cooking, reading, hiking
Kelly: Reading, traveling, soccer, investing

What is/was your favorite subject in school?

Maxwell: Biology
Kelly: History, economics, astronomy

Do you have a special memory from CLIP that you can share with us?

Maxwell: In 8th grade, we took a trip to the SF Chinatown. We had a lot of fun traveling to and from the city and exploring the rich culture of that area. It complemented in-class discussions about the history of Chinese immigration, and it gave us a chance to practice reading and speaking Chinese outside of the classroom environment.

Kelly: 8th grade graduating banquet at Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant. We made our own "through the years" class video that was really sweet.

How did being in CLIP affect your high school career? How did it affect your college career? Current career? Do you find that the Chinese you learned is something you are still using today?

Maxwell: I started high school with Chinese 4, an honors-level course. My success in that course increased my confidence in my academic abilities, as did completing the Chinese language curriculum in my sophomore year. In college, I took third-year Chinese for native speakers and again found that I had been well-prepared for advanced studies. In both cases, CLIP gave me a leg up and saved me a lot of time in completing language requirements. I most recently used my education in Chinese while traveling through Taiwan and Hong Kong to read signs and menus and speak with people.

Kelly: Transitioning to high school from Lawson was challenging because my closest friends in CLIP went to different neighborhood schools (Homestead, Cupertino, Lynbrook, and Monta Vista). But those friendships last, and actually help you network across high schools.

Academically, CLIP gave me a huge leg up in any Chinese language class taken in high school or college. I was not the strongest performer in my CLIP class -- and for a while didn't think I was good at Chinese at all -- but it wasn't until after CLIP that I gained some perspective. In high school and college I found myself consistently top of class. CLIP teachers gave us an incredible foundation in Mandarin, students were held to high standards, and my cohort was extremely competitive.

I believe being conversationally fluent in Mandarin truly helps my professional profile. Knowing another language is impressive to employers and colleagues, and I do chat with the data engineer that sits next to me in Chinese every now and then. Those are always fun and secret conversations.

What advice do you have for current CLIP students?

Maxwell: Study Chinese not just because it's expected of you but also because it will be useful to you later. Being able to talk in another language is itself a gift, and the practical applications of speaking and reading Chinese -- for traveling and for understanding the world -- are incredible.

Kelly: As I've told my younger sister in the 8th grade program: CLIP is challenging -- that's why it's a good program -- but don't doubt the progress you've made. The program will inevitably set you up for success in high school and college.


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