Valeria Cortes will be attending the University of South Florida.
Where are you going to college and what will your major be?
I will be attending the University of South Florida with a major in Biomedical Sciences.
What about college are you most excited for?
Having more freedom with my schedule, and finally taking courses in topics that I am interested in.
When did you realize you were going to be in the top two of your class? How did you react?
I realized that I would be first in my class during my second semester of junior year. At that point, I was ahead by a considerable amount and I knew that I had a heavy course load ahead of me, so I was “safe”.
What advice would you give students who want be their school’s next valedictorian or salutatorian?
If you want to be top of your class, start early. You can begin taking dual enrollment courses the summer before freshman year, and taking these courses will better prepare you for any AP courses you might want to take.
What’s something you wish you knew about high school ahead of time?
Do not overwork yourself. There is a need to try your best, but know your limit and don’t sacrifice your mental health over a test, grade, or even rank in your class.
What is your favorite high school memory?
The entirety of my sophomore year chemistry class. I met two of my closest friends in that class, had a wonderful teacher, and just made a lot of my best memories in there.
How are you going to spend this summer?
Taking a break! This will be my first summer without school in about seven years.
What’s the best thing one of your teachers taught you while in high school?
My physics teacher once told me not to do things because they’re easy or because I want to accomplish something, but rather, do them because of the experience and simply because I want to.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your high school experience?
I had to stay at home for my final year of high school, and missed my final homecoming and senior prom. It sounds silly, but those were some events I was looking forward to the most previous to the pandemic.
What extracurricular activities were you involved in during high school? I participated in National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Students All Connected, and did a lot of tutoring after school.