Pat-Med girls take top 3
Jennifer Li is top of her class as this year’s Patchogue-Medford High School valedictorian with a 104.47 GPA.
Li, 18, a QuestBridge Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction, is treasurer of the National Honor Society and member of the English, history, Spanish, and art honor societies. Next year she will be attending Duke University to study science on a QuestBridge full-ride scholarship.
During her time in high school she also contributed to the literary arts magazine, producing artwork and short poems. Outside of school she works part-time at her parents’ restaurant in Oakdale. She also participated in the Women in Science and Engineering program at Stony Brook University, where she was mentored by a woman in the field.
At Duke she looks to pursue neuroscience or computer science, but will initially attend undecided. She said she is excited to attend the university, but nervous to be away from home.
In her free time, Li enjoys reading and drawing. This year she received the title of Best in Show during an AP Studio Art show. She hopes to continue her love for the arts into college.
“Jen is one of the most amazing students I have had the pleasure of working with,” said art teacher Nancy Gladd. “She is humble and kind, intelligent and artistically talented. She is driven and works very hard to accomplish her goals. I will miss her dearly as she moves on. She is a star and I know she will continue to shine.”
Li is first-generation Chinese a first-generation college student. Born in New York, she moved back to China for a few years before attending preschool in Mattituck, then Connetquot and moved to Pat-Med in fourth grade.
She speaks fluent Fujianese, a dialect of Mandarin.
Her advice for her class and incoming freshmen: “Work hard in whatever you do. If an obstacle comes around, don’t fret. There will always be different opportunities. Also, never take anything for granted and always stay humble.”
Emily Potter took the second spot as this year’s Patchogue-Medford High School salutatorian with a 103.47 GPA.
She is vice president of the National Honor Society and member of the English, Spanish, history, and Tri-M honor societies. She is a varsity tennis player, who received All-County distinction her senior year and is a county scholar-athlete award recipient.
Additionally, Potter is a member of the Principal Leadership Council and Academic Team. She values community service and has been a Girl Scout for the past 12 years, completing her Gold Award project at Brookhaven Head Start. She is particularly interested in politics and interned with Tim Bishop on his congressional campaign. Potter will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, majoring in psychology or neuroscience.
“Emily has made my year of advising one of my best yet,” said Raegen Sweda, the National Honor Society advisor. “Emily is the type of student every teacher loves to work with — she's got it all. She is an outstanding student, but perhaps, more importantly, she is a kind and lovely person.” She said she would miss her after she graduates. “Students like Emily are the reason teachers love teaching,” she added.
Potter, 18, currently lives in Medford with her mother, father and sister, who is in 10th grade. She has attended the school district her entire life. Her mother is a cardiac rehab manager at Southside Hospital and her father is in construction.
Outside of school she works at Swan Bakery in East Patchogue and enjoys traveling. Last summer, she traveled to Ireland with her grandmother. This summer Potter will be visiting Montreal with her mother, then preparing for school.
She said she is most excited to attend the university not only because is it one of the best schools for science but because it is also located in the heart of Philadelphia, with tons to do and plenty of art museums to visit.
Her advice to incoming freshmen: “Take advantage of the time you have with your friends. You will never have that experience again.”
Lauren Sanchez is this year’s essayist with a 102.57 GPA.
Recruited for rowing, she will be attending Princeton University, where she will study political science. She said her dream is to eventually attend law school and become a legislator.
Sanchez, 17, began rowing in her sophomore year through an outside club and has loved it ever since. She has been in the district since kindergarten, lives in Medford and attended Eagle Elementary and Oregon Middle schools.
During her time in high school she has been a member of various clubs including the Model United Nations Club, of which she is president, and Student Government. She is also known for working with Assemb. Dean Murray to make the BOCES special education program allow students to attend until 20 years of age.
Aside from being a member of all honor societies except art, she also is a musical percussionist in the ensemble jazz band and a peer mentor for the special-needs program.
“Lauren is a wonderful person whose integrity and determination set her apart,” said AP teacher Lori Botta. “I am confident that both her personal and professional lives are going to be very successful. She is a true leader.”
During her big graduation speech, she said she will tell her class to “remember the little things, not be overwhelmed and be nice to people.”
Though she is not nervous to speak in front of her class of approximately 600 graduating students, she said she hopes she can fight back the tears that might come from her love of Pat-Med.
“I just hope that in the moment I can hold back the tears to talk,” she said.
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