Valerie Zeffiro is the valedictorian of the Class of 2012.
Zeffiro, of Farmingville, is headed to Siena College in the fall. She also recently a National Letter of Intent to swim at the Division I school.
From Sachem Schools: Valerie is an exceptionally motivated, driven, and intellectual student. Her inherit abilities are maximized by her determination and commitment to achievement. The outcome of her tireless efforts is extremely high levels of success in athletics, academics and community service, where she has won an array of and honors. Valerie is described by her teachers and peers as an extremely conscientious young woman with a remarkable range of talents that she will most definitely apply during her next four years of study at Siena College, where she will be majoring in biology with a combined degree in medicine.
1. What will you miss most about high school?
What I will miss most about Sachem East are the caring, inspirational teachers, administrators, and friends who have been positive role models and motivated me to dream, work, and achieve. The feeling I receive daily just by walking through the halls - seeing a teacher, administrator, or friend - and being able to simply give and receive a greeting and smile is something that is unmatched.
2. What are you looking forward to in moving on to college?
I am looking forward to combining my academics with new areas of community service. The combined-degree program I will be attending, the Siena College/Albany Medical College “Science, Humanities, and Medicine” program, was specifically designed to attract students who have a heart for service to others. The most striking feature of this eight-year program is the requirement for summers of service in underserved areas domestically and abroad. I will be involved in non-medical social work such as literacy instruction, child feeding, and summer programs for youth. Frequently this involves immersion in other cultures and travel to third-world countries. Additionally, I will be involved with the delivery of general medical care to the underserved, often in a rural or inner city setting. These summers of service will be eye-opening, life-altering experiences that may forever change the way I see and interact with the world. I believe these experiences and opportunities will allow me to emerge as a more sensitive physician better able to appreciate a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and deal more effectively with the special needs of those who are less fortunate.
3. What was your favorite high school class?
So many of my classes at East have been engaging and fun, and as a result of taking them, I’ve become not only more knowledgeable but also more globally-conscious and inspired. If I had to pick one class, however, it would be AP World History 10; my teacher, Mr. Varajao, knew how to make learning fun each day – there was always a new joke or humor that reinforced the concepts and lessons; his passion for the subject matter is immense, complete with his unique use of the chalkboard for notes and supplementing of subject matter with real-world applications and media, which made it even more enjoyable to be in class and learn.
4. What clubs or extracurriculars were you involved in?
Throughout my high school career, I have been a member of and participated in the History Honor Society; National Honor Society; Science National Honor Society; Foreign Language National Honor Society; Business and Marketing Honor Society; NYSSMA; Sachem High School East Building Leadership Team; Sachem High School East Varsity Swimming and Diving Team, also serving as Junior and Senior Captain; Spanish Club; National History Club; Physics Club; Concert Band; Class Government; Suffolk County Math Tournament; Al Kalfus, Long Island Math Fair; “The DuPont Challenge”, National Science Essay Competition; Nebula Science Fair, Science Research; Special Olympics organization, also serving as Captain and Executive Polar Plunge Director Intern; Sachem High School East “SAT Word of the Day” Program, also serving as coordinator; and Three Village Swim Club.
5. What advice would you give to underclassmen?
I would advise underclassmen to get involved in their communities as volunteers and take on a leadership role in an activity, club, or outside organization! Community service and leadership are crucial parts of the high school experience, as they yield important knowledge that can't be learned inside the classroom. Volunteerism is about building a stronger community bond. With that said, service is one way of putting your mark on the world and experiencing diversity to enhance your mind and spirit; it is the grassroots manner in which we can truly "make a difference" in the life of another person! I believe that high school is a time to open the mind to new ideas and interests; helping others through community service and leadership acts as a real-world yardstick against which new knowledge can be measured. Ultimately, community service is what got me to where I am today.
6. Any teachers/staff who stood out throughout your journey?
All of my teachers have helped create and shape me into the person I am today; every year there was a "difference maker". If I had to pick the top "difference makers" in my life, Mr. Zumbo, my math teacher for two years, and Mr. Varajao, my AP World History 10 teacher, would be my choice. They are two of the most kind, caring, humorous, inspirational, and motivational individuals I have had the honor of knowing. The two of them have been a huge part of my Sachem and life journey, in and out of the classroom.
7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ten years from now I will have graduated medical school and will be completing my residency in anesthesiology or dermatology. Additionally, I hope to be a contributing member, volunteer, and leader in a multitude of non-profit community service organizations.
8. Tell us a fun fact about you.
Everyone thinks my passions are swimming, service, and scholastics; this is true! However, another passion of mine is baking! Throughout my high school years, I have enjoyed making a variety of treats for my friends, teachers, and varsity team.