9 Danville High valedictorians discuss classes, future plans
They include an aspiring surgeon, oncologist, optometrist, anesthesiologist, bakery owner and international business leader. They hope to find cures for cancer and a rare genetic disorder, work in developing countries and give back to the communities in which they live.
Before they set off to do that, these soon-to-be Danville High School graduates have one more task ahead of them: giving a valedictory address before their graduating senior class of 336 and guests at the school’s commencement exercises on Sunday. Yes, all nine of them.
The students — all of whom took Advanced Placement classes and were involved in a variety of extracurricular activities, from Local History Club to music to athletics — earned the distinction by achieving a 4.0 GPA.
Before they head off to college in the Los Angeles area; upstate New York; Chicago; Indianapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; and Champaign-Urbana, they took some time to answer a few questions about high school and beyond.
Q: Finish the sentence: If I made the Danville High Wall of Fame, I hope I would be recognized for ...
TESS SHORE: Having the number-one bakery in The United States.
JEANNETTE CULLUM: Curing multiple forms of cancer. I have been inspired to become an oncologist to help those struggling with cancer from past experiences, and I hope to one day be able to do research, in which I can eliminate some type of cancer, ultimately leading me to eliminate many types.
NEHA PATEL: My work as a surgeon.
RACHAEL LEWIS: My work outside of the country. I hope to have a career that allows me to travel, and I plan to take the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture of the town that I am in and help the local people around me. In other words, I don't want to be known for the money I make and the job that hold. I want to be known for the ways I helped those that don't know who I am.
KATIE KOEBRICH: My sister has Rett syndrome (a disorder of the nervous system), which has caused me to develop an interest in the fields of genetics and neuroscience. In the future, I hope to participate in research on the condition. I would hope that being inducted into the Wall of Fame would be a result of my contributions to Rett syndrome research.
HUNTER HICKS: My prestigious work and research in the medical field, along with my involvement and generosity in the community.
ARTHI KRISHNA: Something I did to better this town. I've seen firsthand in Local History Club and other classes how amazing this town was and has the potential to be, and it's always been one of my dreams to be able to come back to Danville and fix and revive some of our town's history, such as the Fischer Theatre.
POOJA PATEL: Helping those in need in third-world countries. I am dedicated to helping my community, and I would like to expand this by going to underdeveloped countries and providing health care for those who are in need.
Q: Was there a particular class or activity that shaped you or your plans for the future?
AMY SHAH: My science classes influenced my decision to go into the field of medicine. Different subjects I have taken, like biology, anatomy and chemistry, have taught me what to expect in a science-related career and the rigors and rewards that come with it.
KOEBRICH: I've been part of several music groups at DHS. I play piano, bass and cello and have played in orchestra, the show choir combo and jazz ensembles. Being in these programs was one of the most enjoyable parts of high school, and I will be joining music groups on campus in college and hopefully within my community after college.
SHORE: I developed my work ethic through more than 10 years of swimming and my love for baking by being in the kitchen with my parents.
CULLUM: Though I do not wish to study music in college, the six years that I have been in show choir have majorly shaped me into the person I am today. It helped me to break out of my shell, in which I had always hid, to become the outgoing person that I am today. Show choir gave me the confidence to become who I really am. With a countless number of friends and directors, I made amazing memories to carry with me forever.
KRISHNA: I think the entire history department at DHS has shaped me the most. Although I'm not going into history as a direct major, its one of my biggest passions, and I'm hoping that I can find a way to integrate it into my major, perhaps through a double major or minor. All of these classes and teachers have definitely broadened my mind and taught me so much more than simple historical facts.
POOJA PATEL: The activity that has shaped me into who I am today is Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance. My dedication and passion for this art form underlies my gratitude for my cultural heritage and appreciation of the arts, in general. Also, learning this art has allowed me to bridge the gap between my American nationality and Indian ethnicity.
HICKS: Calculus my senior year and biology my freshman year have shaped me the most because I noticed my interests in math and science while taking these classes. These interests led me to the decision of my major in medicine. I want to go into anesthesiology.
LEWIS: I have loved so many of my experiences from Danville High, but tennis helped to shape who I am today, and traveling to Costa Rica through the school showed me how much I love to travel and gave me a clear idea of what I want to study at Butler. While in Costa Rica, I decided on majoring in international business on top of marketing. We visited a school, "La Escuela Perla," and played with all of the elementary children and talked to them in Spanish. This is when I realized the importance of speaking foreign languages and added Spanish as a triple major.
Q: Any advice for future graduates?
HICKS: Never stop for anything less than your dream. Do not let anyone tell you need to be more realistic. Make sure you are happy with your life and the decisions you have made.
LEWIS: Find your passion. If you find what you want to do, and then do it, you will be much happier than if you are doing something you don't enjoy.
SHAH: Work hard in school — participate in class, complete homework and study for quizzes and tests. Do not only stress over grades though. Become involved in extracurriculars that interest you, whether they are sports, music, service or all three. Just remember to balance your academics with your extracurriculars.
CULLUM: Always push yourself. At the end of the day, your true motivation to be great comes from within.
SHORE: Just keep working hard. You will get there eventually.
Head of the class
Where Danville High's valedictorians will be come fall:
-- Jeannette Cullum, 18, will major in biology at the University of Illinois.
-- Hunter Hicks, 18, will major in health professions (pre-medicine) at the UI.
-- Katie Koebrich, 18, is heading to Vanderbilt to major in biology.
-- Arthi Krishna, 18, will study biological sciences at the UI's Chicago campus.
-- Rachael Lewis, 18, will major in international business, marketing and Spanish at Butler.
-- Neha Patel, 18, is going to UIC to study biochemistry.
-- Pooja Patel, 17, was accepted into the seven-year direct medical program at The Claremont Colleges-Pitzer College, where she will major in biology.
-- Amy Shah, 17, is going to major in biology at the UI.
-- Tess Shore, 18, is heading to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and majoring in baking and pastry arts.
Tip of the cap
What: Danville High School graduation.
When: 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: David S. Palmer Arena, Danville.