East valedictorian headed to California for college
May 28, 2013 at 12:28 a.m.
Victoria East High School Valedictorian
Melissa Clark, 18, talks about what it took to become valedictorian of Victoria East High School and how it feels to graduate on top.
Meet the Valedictorian
• Name: Melissa Clark
• Age: 18
• Class ranking: Valedictorian
• GPA (weighted based on courses): 105.2
• College attending: Stanford University
• Declared major: Biochemistry
• Hobbies: Reading, languages, road-tripping
• Parents: Cheryl and Randall Clark
Honors and Awards
• National Merit Scholar (12th grade)
• NASA High School Aerospace Scholar (after 11th grade)
• Robotics Research Internship at UHV (during 11th grade)
• Student researcher for Garcia Material Research Science and Engineering Center (summer after 11th grade)
• Top Social Studies Student (10th grade)
• Top Science Student (11th grade)
• AP Scholar with Distinction (after 11th grade)
• National Honor Society (10th-12th grade)
• UIL Scholar (grades 9th-12th grade)
• VISD Academic Excellence Award (fifth-12th grade)
Source: Melissa Clark
On those late nights when Melissa Clark ignored her beckoning yawns to study well into the dawn, her cat, Two-Face, kept the Victoria East High School valedictorian company.
The 18-year-old and her cat stayed up until morning during her junior and senior years when her advanced placement course work was at its peak.
Now, after three years of arduous work and adjusting to the rigor of AP classes, Clark will join about 397 seniors at graduation Friday.
Although she's managed to pull ahead of the rest of the pack, Clark said it hasn't always been easy for her.
As a sophomore, Clark remembers struggling to study for a European history exam.
"I totally bombed my first European history test, so for my second test, I had my mom teach me how to study," Clark said. "I loved the teacher for the class, but it was so much work."
Together, they wrote down each date, person and place mentioned in class.
"That's not how I study now, but it really got me started on learning how to study," Clark said. "I'm glad I did it then because it made my junior year a lot of easier because of that."
A few days before last Christmas, Clark received an unexpected email.
Of the 17 universities she applied to, Stanford University, her first pick, had accepted her application.
"I took a screenshot of it, and now I keep it on my phone," Clark said. "I was shocked."
Clark said she plans to major in biochemistry but from there has no plans.
"I know I really enjoy doing research," Clark said. "And what I'd really like to do is get this internship for college students at NASA."
After becoming disenchanted with social studies her sophomore year, Clark pursued an interest in science and took on a robotics internship on top of her six classes at VEHS and a summer Distance Learning Program through NASA's Johnson Space Center.
"It's a great program," Clark said. "I'd recommend it to anyone willing to make the long trips."
Ever since she took a trip to Austria the summer before entering middle school, Clark said, she has become more interested in traveling.
"It has definitely made me more worldly," Clark said.
She applied to many colleges and was accepted to Duke University, Dartmouth College, Brown University, Cornell University, Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, University of California-Berkeley, Washington University-St. Louis, the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan.
Clark set her sights high by applying to Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University, though she was not accepted.
"I was super surprised at how many schools I actually got into," Clark said. "I think a lot of it had to do with my applications. I really put my heart into them."