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When Class of 2014 Valedictorian Gabrielle Séjourné begins her undergraduate studies at Harvard University this fall, she's confident her experience as a Guilford High School (GHS) student will serve her well.
With its highly selective acceptance rate (6.2 percent as of 2012), Harvard is considered one of the world's top universities. It was Gabi's first choice, and she received her decision letter in December.
"The competitiveness was something that definitely worried me, once I knew I got accepted to Harvard and would be going there!" she admits, smiling. "I definitely want to try to just focus on myself. I know I was challenged at Guilford High School and I think it's a really great school system. There are so many great opportunities here, and great teachers and courses."
Gabi's sister, Corinne, was also a GHS valedictorian (Class of 2012).
"She's excited for me," says Gabi. "My parents, my brother and sister, all the teachers and administration, our principal Mr. Misenti…Everyone has been really supportive."
An AP Scholar, National Merit Commended Scholar, SCC Scholar Leader, and recipient of the Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendent Award and Yale Book Award, among many other awards, Gabi leans toward math and science as academic favorites and especially enjoyed AP biology as a junior and AP physics in her senior year. She competed in the Yale Physics Olympics as a GHS team member in 2013 and placed second with her team at the AAPT Regional Physics Bowl (2014). Gabi is considering becoming a medical doctor and wants to explore the possibility of studying engineering or biology as an undergraduate.
But her success as a student shines in all areas of study. The National Honor Society, French Honor Society (co-president), and Latin Honor Society member showed her proclivity by earning maxima cum laude on the National Latin Examination and successive rankings of cum dignitate and cum laude in the State Latin Contest. During her four years at GHS, she's received Academic Excellence Awards (highest honor in class) for French 2, World Humanities English, World Humanities/World Civilization, Accelerated Geophysical Science, Latin, Honors Pre-Calculus, AP Biology, AP Statistics, and Honors French 4.
Gabi says her intent as a student is always to enjoy the learning opportunity and challenging herself and do her best in every class, rather than focusing on earning good grades in order to win awards. She recommends the approach to any student.
"My goal was to get into a good college where I wanted to go," she says. "I would say that's probably a better goal-finding somewhere you're going to be happy. If it means making good grades to get there, go for it. But making becoming valedictorian your goal is not the important thing."
Outside of the classroom, Gabi's talent as a violinist was recognized by the Connecticut Music Educators Association, which selected her as a Southern Regional Music Festival Orchestra member (2011, 2013). She played in the GHS Symphony Orchestra and New Haven Youth Symphony Orchestra, as well.
The GHS Student Senate co-president and Board of Education student representative served on the GHS Assistant Principal Selection Committee (2013) and mentored and volunteered in the community as a coach with Girls Coach-Girls Run, as a peer minister with St. George Church, and as a Pilgrim Fellowship Service Volunteer.
"You have to get good at time management," says Gabi. "It sounds obvious, but it's just kind of like finding the random little pockets of time and using them to do things, like staying up an extra hour every night."
On the playing field, Gabi was a member of the GHS girls soccer and indoor track squads and was a captain for both teams her senior year. This fall, she helped lead the soccer team to win the 2013 Class L State Championship. Gabi is a 2014 CIAC Scholar Athlete of the Year, 2013 Connecticut Girls Soccer Coaches Association Scholar Athlete. She was also named an SCC Scholar Athlete of the month, among other athletic awards spanning her career.
"Sports were big for me," says Gabi, adding she will miss many things about GHS and her hometown when she heads off to Harvard.
"I'll miss the people, for sure-Guilford is just a great town, with such great people. I'll miss all the kids and the teachers. I love our Town Green. Graduation on the Green is a great tradition."