YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Writing a speech can be an intimidating task for many valedictorians, but Yorktown’s Jillian Barry welcomed the challenge with open arms.
For years, Barry has been combining her love of science and literature to create science fiction short stories. She turned one of her short stories, which she describes as a “modern day ‘Frankenstein,’” into a screenplay. She is also in the process of writing a fantasy novel set in Victorian England.
In addition to her creative writing, Barry plays golf recreationally, performs violin in the school orchestra and is a member of the school’s Science Olympiad. On top of all that, she found time to achieve the highest grade point average in the Class of 2016, earning the title of valedictorian.
“I found out in September and I was thrilled because this was the culmination of all my hard work and perseverance,” Barry said. “I told my mom immediately and she sort of screamed into the phone. Everybody in the office heard.”
She admits that she has worked hard and has had to juggle her time. It helped, she said, to have friends who were also motivated and understood when she had to devote extra time to studying or writing more for an assignment.
Barry has been in Yorktown schools since kindergarten and has been involved in many community projects, such as interning at Guiding Eyes for the Blind and working with Leos Club (a junior version of the Lions Club International). She has played the violin since fourth grade and is a member of the Student Senate.
Her favorite subject in high school was science, particularly biology. She may have not been able to discover this passion had it not been for the many clubs and extra-curricular activities offered at Yorktown High School, she said.
“I’m going to miss my friends and all the teachers that I’ve had and were so nice,” Barry said. “I really enjoyed spending time here and I feel they have a lot of opportunities for everybody to do whatever they want.”
In high school, she particularly liked studying and writing about medical ethics and significant health/social issues and looking at ways they intersect.
“Things are always changing and you have to keep up,” she said. One topic that intrigues her is world population and how medical treatments vary globally from one location to another.
Both of Barry’s parents have had successful careers in law—her mother is a lawyer and her father a judge. Barry will instead take a different career path, hoping to one day become a doctor. She plans to attend Columbia University in the fall and will major in pre-medicine with a minor in creative writing.
In her graduation speech, Barry said her message was relatively straightforward.
“I know this is sort of cliché, but if you work hard you can achieve whatever you want,” she said.