St. Joseph valedictorian plans career in pharmacy

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

May 23, 2014 at 12:23 a.m.
Updated May 24, 2014 at 12:24 a.m.

Olivia Creager, valedictorian for St. Joseph High School, smiles  as she applies nail polish to a resident's hand at Retama Manor Nursing Home.  Olivia volunteers her time to serve residents at the facility.

Olivia Creager, valedictorian for St. Joseph High School, smiles as she applies nail polish to a resident's hand at Retama Manor Nursing Home. Olivia volunteers her time to serve residents at the facility.

Olivia Alexsandra Creager, 17, strives to do her best. The high school senior's best is also St. Joseph High School's best.

In fact, Olivia has been the best in her class since fifth grade at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School.

With a 103.012 grade-point average, Olivia is valedictorian of her graduating class.

She plans to address the many people who have helped her along the way at the graduation ceremony Sunday.

"My parents always told me to do my best - that was all they wanted from me," Olivia, an only child, said. "I'm so blessed to have them."

Olivia has studied at small, Catholic schools all of her life, and she has decided to continue that tradition in college. She earned a scholarship to the University of the Incarnate Word, which has guaranteed her spot in the School of Pharmacy through its early assurance pharmacy program.

The program requires that Olivia maintain a 3.75 GPA in her coursework for the university to waive the requisite pharmacy college admission test.

"I double-check my work a lot, and I love math," Olivia said. "I would be a careful pharmacist with a life in my hands - I would do my best."

Pharmacy seemed like a good fit for Olivia because she wanted to work in the medical field without the erratic hours required of physicians. She wanted to have time to raise a family.

Shadowing local pharmacist Steve Branch, owner of Central Drug in Victoria, reinforced her decision.

"Shadowing him was a blessing in my life," Olivia said. "It allowed me to explore the field further and make sure it was right for me."

Both of Olivia's parents serve in health professions - Dr. Greg Creager is a psychiatrist, and Yolanda Creager is a speech pathologist.

"My parents have always been at my side, supporting me and encouraging me to do my best," Olivia said.

Olivia is a self-described perfectionist who strives to surpass her goals rather than achieve a particular ranking.

"I'm happy to beat my prior records and meet my potential," Olivia said. "I know my skills and my limitations."

The senior said she studied diligently for long hours to make good grades. She described all of her teachers as her "favorites."

"I'm an only child, so the teachers were like second mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles," Olivia said.

Special memories of each teacher already come to her mind: Sabra Sauer, chemistry teacher, told Olivia's class to "sig fig it" and "plug and chug" to solve scientific problems. Michael Boyle showed Olivia's Spanish class amazing images of architecture in Spain. Gretchen Boyle was a fun, expressive English teacher who asked Olivia's class, "You didn't know that?" with a "Why not?" look on her face. David Pozzi, Olivia's calculus teacher who shared her passion for mathematics, asked her class, "Yes, no, maybe?"

Pozzi regularly stopped by the library during eighth period - his time off - to tutor Olivia in trigonometry. She had enrolled in an online class offered by Victoria College, and she often had questions.

"I would not have done as well without his help, and I'm very appreciative," she said.

Pozzi described Olivia as intelligent, hard-working and organized.

"She is so good in her ability to focus and concentrate; she is extremely careful; she double-checks her work," Pozzi said. "These are all traits that will help her tremendously."

Olivia was interested and determined, and she worked well with adults as well as students, Pozzi added.

"All the teachers truly love what they do, and it reflects in their students," Olivia said.

The reality that her time at St. Joseph High School was winding down hit Olivia as she photographed details around campus for the time capsule. The valedictorian said she anticipated missing the family atmosphere most.

"The past four years have been a pleasant journey," Olivia said.

She served her high school as a Starlighter, a soccer player, a senior retreat leader, a student council representative and parliamentarian, a class officer and a National Honor Society officer, among other roles.

"I want to be able to make a difference in people's lives," Olivia said. "I love medicine, the human body and how medicine interacts with the human body."

Read about the St. Joseph salutatorian here.



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