Past St. Louis High School Valedictorians: where are they now?


Jaszmin Harbor

Keegan Honig, the Valedictorian of the class of 2021, points where his name will be listed along with previous valedictorians of SLHS.

Leah Chvojka, Staff Writer

The recent announcement of the top 10 St. Louis High School students of 2021 was made April 19, and leading the way for the Sharks was valedictorian Keegan Honig. Many SLHS students strive for this title, and many may also wonder where the path has taken past valedictorians. The past ten year’s valedictorians were sent a message and asked a few questions and six of them responded. Among these six include; 2018’s valedictorian Alyx Everitt, 2017’s valedictorian Evan Goodell, 2016’s valedictorian Megan Brown, 2015’s valedictorian Marisa Thum, 2014’s Emily Heitsch, and 2012’s valedictorian Laura Kelly. 

Let’s start off with SLHS’ 2018 valedictorian, Alyx Everitt. She didn’t stop reaching her goals. Everitt states, “I’m currently a Junior at Albion college majoring in biochemistry with a minor in exercise science on a pre-med track. My current goal is to attend medical school after graduation and ultimately become a physician in Michigan.” She continued with, “My roommate, Courtney, has been a big support in walking through the stress of med school applications and MCAT prep alongside me. The Wilson Institute for Medicine at Albion has also been a huge help in guiding me through my coursework and keeping me on track for medical school.” 

A great deal of people wonder if putting in all the hard work and determination for the title of valedictorian is worth it in the end. Everitt explains, “I think that putting in your greatest amount of effort is always worth it in the end. It really doesn’t matter in college whether you were the valedictorian or last in your class, but I’m proud that I can say that I gave my best effort throughout high school. In doing so, I set myself up to be successful throughout my college career.”

Next up is Evan Goodell, 2017’s valedictorian. Goodell said he graduated in December with a biology degree with a biochemistry minor. He then started graduate school in January to pursue a doctorate in Applied Science, with a concentration in biophysical chemistry and structural biology. He is still at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Goodell explains that working toward a Ph.D. is a big accomplishment that takes about five years which is a similar accomplishment to valedictorian. Goodell continues with, “I’m still on the track team and have goals in that as well. My family has been very supportive, and my team has been there through it all.” Goodell added, “The skills and knowledge, sure, those are valuable and still useful, but the title doesn’t matter after the weekend of graduation.” 

Next in line is Megan Brown, 2016’s valedictorian. She begins with, “I graduated from Spring Arbor University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology in May of 2020, COVID graduation, so my diploma came in the mail. I’m now attending the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine. My academic goal is just to do my best in my studies, but not stress out about my grades. I’ve learned over time that it’s okay to not get an ‘A’ in every class, and that it’s not going to make me any less of a veterinarian someday.” She ended with, “For me, it was worth it in the sense that I accomplished a goal that I set for myself my freshman year. So it was cool to see that hard work come to fruition.”

Now onto Marisa Thum, who was very excited to hear about this opportunity. She explains, “I graduated from Michigan State with my bachelor’s degree in Animal Science in 2019, and I am now finishing up my master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University! I have a few weeks of classes left, two 12-week fieldwork placements, and a boards exam to pass, and then I will start my career as an OT! I currently work part-time in both the CSU Transitions, Employment, and Technology lab where I am completing my thesis and the CSU Assistive Technology Resource Center.” She continued with, “I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family, friends, teachers, and mentors, but living over a thousand miles away from most of my supporters while completing grad school during a pandemic has shown me that the most important supporter I have is myself. Although the support of others has been priceless, I think it’s really important to develop and recognize your own resilience so you can be your own biggest supporter.” Thum finished with, “Although it was certainly an honor to be named valedictorian of my class, I think the most important thing I gained from my hard work was the knowledge and determination I needed to succeed in my life beyond high school. While it feels good to get good grades, your high school GPA quickly becomes irrelevant after you graduate, and what really matters is that you took advantage of the opportunities to learn and grow academically, personally, and professionally.”

Next is Emily Heitsch, 2014’s valedictorian who says, “I graduated from college in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I work as an ICU nurse at Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids.” Heitsch says her biggest supporters are her parents and the friends she made at school. She continued with, “I think it was worth it (pursuing valedictorian) in the mindset it instilled in me. It was less that I was working to become valedictorian, and more that I was trying to always do my personal best. In college and in life since then, I still work to do my very best, even though there’s no title or award to be won. I hope that by doing that, I’m able to have a positive impact on the patients I care for, as well as feel fulfilled in my life and career.”

Last but not least, 2012’s valedictorian Laura Kelly explains, “I graduated from Alma College in 2016 with a double major in secondary education and mathematics, and a minor in Spanish. I am currently a math teacher at Omni High School through Carrollton Public Schools. I am also the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Carrollton High School.” Kelly continued, “In college, my biggest supporters were my college cross country coaches and teammates. Right now my biggest supporters are my two best friends, Kailyn Sandow and Lance Fowler, who are also my housemates.” Laura Kelly made a big impact by stating, “I feel like while I was in high school I focused too much on grades and not enough on learning; I wish I had developed a better love of learning at that time and not just doing everything to get the A.” She added, “At this point in my life, I rarely acknowledge that I was valedictorian because instead, I focus more on my talents and skills, (rather) than just titles.”

As these very gifted but very humble SLHS alumni have pointed out, many may work toward this title of valedictorian, yet everyone needs to know grades do not define who you are as a person.