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Rising to the challenge

Anna Cain enjoys a good challenge.

Whether it’s in the classroom or on the softball diamond, she puts forth the effort to overcome the odds set against her.

In the past, her blood, sweat and tears helped her softball team finish their season 50-3-1.

Now, her studying has paid off, as well.

Cain, a senior at Nansemond River High School, was named valedictorian of her 2010 class and will graduate with a 4.4 GPA.

“I hadn’t really thought about being named valedictorian,” Cain said. “It was a little unexpected but certainly an honor.”

Cain’s future plans include attending the University of Virginia to study biology and pre-medical with the goal to one day become a zoo veterinarian.

“I love animals and the challenges presented through medicine,” Cain said. “Animals can’t talk or tell you what’s bothering them. You have to figure out what is wrong. I like a good challenge.”

Cain’s love of animals began in her childhood, and spurred her work at the Norfolk Zoo and the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals.

“My brother and I used to run around the yard looking for toads and frogs,” Cain said. “I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since I was about four, and I pretty much had a mini-zoo — four lizards, two snakes, fish and a dog.”

Between caring for her animals, playing traveling and school softball, volunteering and other school activities, Cain said her athletics have helped her juggle all her busy schedule.

“I feel like my athletics have helped a lot,” Cain said. “It’s forced me to develop time management skills and even as a younger kid, I learned how to work with people and figure out what people need me to do. Both of those lessons transfer into the classroom and have helped me become a better student.”

Balancing her work and school was smooth sailing until last year, she said.

“Last year, when I started advanced placement classes, I had to step it up a little bit,” Cain said. “I had to rise to the challenge, but I don’t feel like I was one of those kids who always had a nose in a book. I never focused on getting a certain grade. I just wanted to do the best I could.”

Cain is the daughter of Andrew and Anita and has two brothers, John and Andrew.