Susan Huang is sure about where she's headed.
The valedictorian for 's class of 2012 is going into a field of study she's been fascinated by since she was a child.
She'll leave Kent for Hanover, NH, where she'll attend Dartmouth College — almost 13 hours away from home — and where she's already developed friendships with some like-minded incoming students.
Perhaps most importantly, she's sure about herself.
Kent Patch talked with the hopeful neurobiologist about life in Kent and future plans following today's graduation ceremony in the following Q&A. You can also read a copy of her commencement speech, which is attached to this article.
Kent Patch editor Matt Fredmonsky: I understand you're going to Dartmouth to major in neuroscience because of your relationship with your older sister, who has autism. Is this simply because you wish to more fully understand her condition, or do you aspire eventually to treat it as a neurobiologist?
Kent-Roosevelt valedictorian Susan Huang: Actually, ever since I was a young girl, I have been fascinated by the mystery surrounding the human brain and the complex processes that occur in our minds. So naturally, I was extremely interested in majoring in neuroscience because I think there is so much yet to be discovered about the nervous system, including the causes of neurological disorders. My desire to become a neurologist also stems from growing up with my sister, which opened my eyes to the difficulties people with neurological disorders experience on a daily basis. I believe that learning more about how our brains function could help with the diagnosis of different psychological and neurological disorders, which could lead to the development of new treatments, and even the discovery of cures. I would love to go into medicine eventually with a focus in neurology.
Kent Patch: On a related note, do you have a career path in mind yet?
Huang: Right now, I am planning on majoring in neuroscience while on the pre-med track at Dartmouth, and then hopefully go to medical school to become a neurologist.
Kent Patch: Do you know anyone at Dartmouth, or will you be going it on your own there?
Huang: When I was accepted to Dartmouth, I didn't know anyone that would be going there. But then I went to an accepted students dinner and met some people in Ohio that were also accepted to Dartmouth. Then in April, I went to Dimensions, which is an accepted students' visitation three-day program, and made some friends, including fellow freshmen and also some upperclassmen. So I will know a few people at Dartmouth.
Kent Patch: Was it a tough decision to go somewhere relatively far from home?
Huang: Yes and no. I know I will miss my family a lot, and it will be especially hard not being able to see my sister every day, so in that respect yes, it was a difficult decision knowing that I would be leaving them. I was accepted to schools closer to home, but I completely fell in love with Dartmouth when I visited and could definitely see myself there for the next four years, and my parents are supportive of me going there, so I knew Dartmouth was the right choice for me. I will be back home to visit as often as I can though.
Kent Patch: What one thing about attending Dartmouth are you looking forward to the most?
Huang: I am looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends. During Dimensions, I talked to so many interesting people from all over the world, and I can't wait to see them all again in the fall. Although it will be a completely new environment, I am so excited to start my college experience with such friendly and wonderful people.
Kent Patch: What one thing about Kent will you miss the most while attending Dartmouth?
Huang: I will definitely miss all the people here in Kent. The community here is like no other. I grew up in this town, and it's going to be hard leaving my home and moving away to New Hampshire in the fall. The community and all my teachers, friends, family, have been so supportive and helpful, and I really wouldn't be where I am today without them. I can't thank them enough.
Kent Patch: What clubs/organizations/sports did you participate in at Roosevelt?
Huang: I was the class vice-president for three years, Key Club president, on the varsity tennis team, and NHS vice-president. I also participated in Academic Challenge, Model United Nations, Prom Works, and Akron Youth Symphony. I helped plan the Freshman Kick-Off and Retreat, and also helped plan Student Council Leadership Workshops.
Kent Patch: What was the best piece of advice you got from a teacher at Roosevelt?
Huang: My government teacher, Mr. Fisher, stopped me in the hallway one day and said that 'It's not just about all your accomplishments, Susan, but it's also about who you've become as a person.' He was telling me that not only did I have these accomplishments, but that I was a good person too, which meant a lot to me. I think that it's definitely true that achieving your goals is great, but what matters the most is who you are as a person and not to lose sight of that.
Kent Patch: What was your final GPA there?
Kent Patch: What hobbies do you enjoy?
Huang: I love to read, draw and paint, and play tennis. My to-read list has been getting pretty long, and I can finally get started on all the books now that summer is here.
Kent Patch: As valedictorian, what piece of advice do you hope to impart on your fellow graduates on Sunday?
Huang: My advice for the Class of 2012 is to believe in yourself and remember that you can do anything you set your mind to. I think our class will do great things, and don't let fear hold you back from chasing your dreams. I also hope that we live life to the fullest, enjoy each moment, appreciate the amazing people in our lives, and learn from our experiences.