Profiles in Excellence: Owen J. Robert's Rachel Heise

Rachel is one of two valedictorians in the graduating Class of 2013

Rachel is one of two valedictorians in the graduating Class of 2013 for Owen J. Roberts High School in Chester County, Pa.

She was a member of National Honor Society and the section leader of the flute and piccolo section of the award-winning Owen J. Roberts Marching Band.

As an athlete, Rachel excelled in Cross Country and Track & Field. She competed for Owen J. Roberts on the academic team and participated in school plays. She has very strong leadership skills serving as president of the Vincent Mennonite Youth Group where she actively pursued many community service projects.

Rachel credits math teachers at Owen J. Roberts for making math fascinating, but Rachel has long loved mathematics and engineering. She is fascinated with how things work and would like one day to run her own engineering firm.

Talented in both athletics and academics, she was awarded 2013 Owen J. Roberts Scholar Athlete.

Rachel received the honor of Student of the Month every year of her high school career. As a member of Amnesty International, she created a “Human Rights Day” to raise awareness at Owen J. Roberts High School.

Rachel plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall and ultimately pursue a career in engineering.

Below is Rachel's graduation speech:

We never know exactly where life will carry us. This past fall, I joined cross country on a whim. I’d never really run before, so the whole experience was entirely new to me. I learned so much about running during the season, but the main thing I learned is that running a 5k is hard work. The beginning is always exciting: lining up on the starting line, surrounded by teammates, and when the gun goes off putting so much energy into getting ahead. But by the first mile marker, I was never quite so enthusiastic. At that point, my feet hurt, my legs hurt, and my lungs hurt worst of all. During that second mile, I was always so close to giving up. Why, I would ask myself, am I still running? What do I gain from running this race?

I realized that running a race is exactly how high school feels. Freshman year we were all so unbelievably excited to be starting high school and finally becoming the big kids. We were starting that race with all of our friends by our sides. But, as must inevitably happen, the novelty of high school slowly wore off until we were weary and continually counting the days until we would reach the finish line that is graduation day. These last couple of weeks, when graduation was seemingly close but still so distant, we have all somehow mustered the effort required to sprint the last hundred yards and cross that finish line.

I know we’re all relieved that we’ve finished high school, but just as in cross country, the races are never truly over. After each one there is always another race to run and another hill to conquer. For us, high school was merely the first of the many races we’ll have to run in our lifetimes. Whatever the next challenge for us may be, we have to stay focused and watch that finish line as we approach it from the distance. When you remember your first success of graduating high school, remember how all those late nights studying and hours put into school have paid off. And when you are next faced with more than you think you can handle, keep running toward your goal and don’t give in to the obstacles that try to prevent you from reaching it. But for now, we can all just enjoy the pride and exhilaration that comes from completing our very first race

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