‘A lot of hard work’

Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Matthew Bradshaw is Lakeland High School’s 2013 valedictorian. He will attend the University of Virginia in the fall, and he has his sights set on a career with a chemical company.

Matthew Bradshaw is Lakeland High School’s 2013 valedictorian. He will attend the University of Virginia in the fall, and he has his sights set on a career with a chemical company.

Lakeland valedictorian aims for future in science

For Lakeland High School’s 2013 valedictorian, the recipe for high school success was pretty much what one might expect.

“A lot of hard work, a lot of study, a lot of late nights. … Just a lot of effort to try to propel myself to the top,” he said recently.

During his time at Lakeland, Matthew Bradshaw has taken eight AP (advanced placement) courses and “a lot of honors courses.” He was notified of the result Friday.

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“It wasn’t guaranteed, but I was pretty sure,” he said.

Bradshaw will attend the University of Virginia in the fall, where he plans to major in chemical engineering.

“I’m getting some outside scholarships from the community,” he said.

He cited math as his favorite subject during school, adding he has a particular soft spot for calculus.

While being named valedictorian is proof positive of Bradshaw’s commitment to academics, he has also pursued a range of activities outside the classroom.

These include the Anchor Club, which Bradshaw said has promoted brain safety by venturing into elementary schools to teach students about wearing helmets, and also raised awareness about Alzheimer’s disease; as well as drama club and orchestra.

He was a member of the drama club for three years, opting out during his senior year, and he plays cello and piano.

“Piano is my main instrument,” he said. “I’ve played that for 10 or 11 years. I definitely want to find somewhere to have a music outlet in college.”

Bradshaw views participating beyond the classroom as a “good way, first of all, to establish friendships, and it’s a good way to improve the community — a lot of the stuff is community-service oriented.”

He also said it’s a relief valve from the pressures of academics. “It teaches you certain skills you don’t learn in the classroom,” he said.

Bradshaw cited a trip to New Orleans with the orchestra in his freshman year as his most memorable school experience. “It’s one of the coolest experiences I had in high school,” he said.

He also mentioned attending the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Conference in Chicago in 2011, and a BASF science academy in New Jersey last summer.

Bradshaw aims to work for a chemical company, like BASF or Dupont, and “possibly work my way up … and become an executive,” but he also said he’s open to opportunities.

Though they were expecting the news, telling his family, Bradshaw said, was one nice thing about being named valedictorian.

“They were all really excited,” he said.