East Brunswick valedictorian, salutatorian reflect on time as high schoolers

East Brunswick High School's valedictorian Rachel Yan, Class of 2021

EAST BRUNSWICK–Reflecting on their four years of hard work and dedication, East Brunswick High School’s valedictorian Rachel Yan and salutatorian Joshua Yi are ready to take their next steps.

The East Brunswick High School graduation for the Class of 2021 was held on June 18 at the high school, located at 380 Cranbury Road.

“I’m incredibly honored to be this year’s valedictorian, although it did come as a surprise. Even though the honor belongs to the student of the highest rank, I don’t think it can be used to argue that the valedictorian is completely above the rest of the class,” Yan said. “I believe the title reflects dedication towards schoolwork, but it can’t show other levels of superiority because every student in the graduating class has something valuable to offer. Each student is unique and excellent in their own way despite not having the same title.”

Yan, 18, said of course she is extremely excited to receive this honor.

“I will be attending Princeton University next fall. I currently plan to major in chemistry, but this is not a concrete plan. I’m interested in the sciences, so I have also been considering majoring in molecular biology, computer science or physics,” Yan said.

Finding it hard to believe that she is graduating high school already, Yan said she feels this way especially because she attended school completely virtually this year.

“Of course, I’m sad to leave high school and East Brunswick, especially because I’ve lived in East Brunswick for my entire life. I have so many memories in clubs, schools and activities, and I’m close with the people and friends I’ve grown up with,” Yan said. Moreover, the virtual aspect of school this year made it hard to feel connected to people, which also increased my nostalgia for high school.”

Yan said she is excited and nervous to move on to the next phase of her life.

“I’m excited to be involved in a completely new community, meet new people from around the country and world, and take classes in topics that truly interest me. I’m excited to grow in college, both as a student and as a person, when surrounded by numerous opportunities and outstanding faculty and students,” Yan said. “I look forward to the challenges that are sure to come. I’m also nervous at the thought of such dramatic change because attending college is such a sharp contrast to the comfort of high school and East Brunswick, which I’ve grown used to.”

Joshua, 17, is going to Princeton University and currently plans to major in physics.

“It was unexpected and is a nice award to have. I don’t think it really matters that much, especially since many successful people are less focused on schoolwork and grades, and more on their own extra projects they like,” he said.

“It’s a bit of nostalgic about leaving high school; after all I’ve been part of the East Brunswick school community for [more than] 10 years and have had many amazing experiences; however, I hope to have an even more interesting time in college while making new friends,” he said.

Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].