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East High School valedictorian finds salvation in studying

By KBell
May 31, 2011 at 12:31 a.m.

Ashley Chang, 17, is Victoria East High School's 2011 valedictorian. In the fall, she will attend the University of Texas at Austin to major in biology as a pre-medical student in the Dean's Scholars Honors Program.

Ashley Chang doesn't have to say she's a Type-A personality, within minutes of meeting her, it's endearingly obvious.

"I like to be proactive and get out and do things myself," Ashley said. "I always have things organized. That's just the way I am."

It's that attitude and discipline that led Ashley to be East High School's valedictorian.

For the self-assertive, fast-talking 17-year-old, ranking at the top of her class was a self-motivated goal. She took AP classes, did her homework in school and dedicated her time to extracurricular activities.

It didn't hurt that she truly enjoyed her schoolwork.

"Studying is calming to me. It provides (you) with a distraction from all the other things that you have on your mind," she said.

Even with the school year winding down, Ashley said she hasn't let herself wind down. Not having anything to do makes her feel like she's forgetting something, she said.

"I feel like I need to be continuous with my scheduling and organizing different events," she said. "I plan things out way ahead of time, so I won't have that moment where I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow or the next day. I hate that feeling."

Accordingly, Ashley's already booked the summer before she heads off to the University of Texas with a full ride. She'll be participating in a paid internship at MD Anderson, where she'll research cancer.

She plans to be a biology and pre-medicine major. She looks forward to a career that requires her for years to come to delve into that studying she loves so much.

Despite her ambitions, Ashley said she won't forget her hometown, especially the year she spent at East High School.

"I think having all these classmates around you that you've known since elementary school ... we're such a close-knit community, and I know that's what I'm going to miss."



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