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Kristin Alumni – Graci Kim

Kristin Alumni: Bestselling Author

Graci Kim – Bestselling Author

Graci Kim, Head Prefect from the Class of 2004, is a dynamic force – a bestselling author with a background as a diplomat for the New Zealand foreign service.

Graci’s debut novel: ‘The Last Fallen Star’ is book one in the Korean mythology-inspired trilogy published by Rick Riordan Presents, is a New York Times bestseller, as well as a 2021 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for “Best Middle Grade & Children’s Book”. Graci’s ‘Gifted Clans’ trilogy has also been optioned by the Disney Channel for a live-action television series!

Graci inspired our Year 7 students recently when she visited Kristin to speak, sharing stories from her early years through to her fascinating varied career and becoming a bestselling author. She talked about how aspiring to always be brave and curious has guided her decisions and how she chose to focus on being positive when facing challenges.

The students loved hearing from Graci and asked many questions including how she stays motivated, how she overcomes writer's block and how she overcame some of her challenges. There was a message for everyone in Graci's presentation: One situation has two outcomes, which path will you choose?

Graci was kind enough to share some more of her story and reflections with us:
“When I graduated Kristin in 2004, I thought I knew exactly where I was headed. Kristin’s motto of “Progress with vision, integrity and love” was deeply instilled in me, and I wanted to put that into action through a career in diplomacy. After all, what greater service was there than representing my country?

The decade or so I spent as a diplomat included some of the most exciting years of my life. I got to negotiate wine trade agreements in South America, lead initiatives on women’s economic empowerment in APEC, help in the post-earthquake effort in Christchurch, and even walk down the red carpet. I got to see so much of the world, learned languages for a living, and lived in beautiful places like Taipei and Beijing.

But when I wasn’t working, I was restless. Somewhere deep down, there was a small voice willing me to stop—to consider whether I was, in fact, progressing with “Vision, integrity and love”. Kristin taught me to strive for excellence. Was I doing justice to my vision? Or had my vision changed?

Then one sunny day in Beijing, I was told that without emergency surgery within the following 24-72 hours, I would go blind. In the proceeding months of darkness, as I recovered from surgery, I was forced to truly stop. And the little voice inside me began to grow.
“Have the integrity to listen,” it urged. “Do the thing that makes your heart sing.”

The voice was mine—but from an earlier time, before exams and adulthood and the pressure to achieve became too loud. And when I lent an ear, I learned that my heart sang its loudest song when I put my pen to paper.

Growing up, I didn’t see kids who looked like me in books. We were invisible. And I wanted to be part of the movement that put us on the page. Because everyone deserves to be the heroes of their own stories. Our voices deserve to be heard too.

My first novel was a failure. But I kept writing. And the day I found out I was pregnant, I got my first book deal with Disney. Now I write full time, and my books have become bestsellers, won awards, and been optioned for TV.

My journey is still not over. Writing is a privilege, and the path is windy and tortuous. But for now, my heart is full. I pour myself into my words because I now have an honest vision of my purpose. I dedicate my days, with integrity and love, to the kids out there for whom representation matters. And I have Kristin’s values to thank for that.“

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