Valedictorian said family has given her the foundation to succeed

Camille Doty

May 27, 2011 at 12:27 a.m.

Left: Faith Academy valedictorian Emily Graff.

Left: Faith Academy valedictorian Emily Graff.

Emily Graff may be petite in size, but she is large in accomplishments.

On Sunday, she will graduate top of the class at Faith Academy. Her father is the pastor at Faith Family Church, but the valedictorian said he never put unfair pressure on her. She said her parents told her, "Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability."

Emily also said her parents gave her a good foundation and taught her to prioritize.

She said God, family, and her personal relationships mean the world to her.

Emily is really close to salutatorian Haley Thomas. They plan to room together at Texas A&M University in the fall.

Emily will enroll as a general studies student on the business management track.

"It's a good degree to have to understand how business works. I plan to use what I learned in the church," she said.

Although she is leaving her comfort zone, Emily embraces a new life on A&M's large campus. She looks forward to making new friends and having fun with Haley.

She also said she's glad she doesn't have to spend seven hours in a classroom.

Emily said the university has one of the top business schools. It is important for her to enjoy her college experience, "I loved the people and the traditions. I visited the campus and I loved it."

Her father, Jim Graff, said, "Her relationship with God is important to her. It will help her process how she'll live in the real world."

The Graffs are excited their youngest daughter will be only three hours away. Her older siblings, Michael and Andrea Graff, went to school in Tulsa, Okla. They've already asked Emily how many times they can come visit.

"We've already asked her when does she plan to come home. We're glad it's close," Her mother Tamera said.

Her favorite subject is math because she likes solving problems. "I feel pretty successful when I figure it out," she said.

Her parents describe her as a natural leader.

Emily said she found a teacher to soak with water balloons after the school marathon. She even convinced some her classmates to join.

Emily said growing up a middle child she got the best of both worlds. "I loved it. I always had someone to play with, I could pick which one I wanted to hang out with," she said. She knows how to have fun but she will do what she can to defend her family. Another kid took her younger brother, Geoffrey's, football during a welcome dinner. But his small-statured sister tackled the guy and got it back. No questions asked. She didn't even crack a smile.

An admitted Pittsburgh Steelers fan, she loves football. Her favorite movie is "Remember the Titans." She said she's watched it since she was 7 and never gets tired of it.

But Emily doesn't just sit on the sidelines, she is active in sports herself. She plays basketball and volleyball and spent her summers in sports camps.

Emily said she loves to read, especially self-help books. One of her favorites is about listening to God's voice. "It is also important to slow down and listen to God, but you need to have the guts to do what God tells you to do," she said.



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