Hartgerink looks toward a career in environment law

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2023

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Skylar Hartgerink is celebrating her hard work after graduating as valedictorian in Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s class of 2023.

As she begins her life journey, Hartgerink took time to reflect on this recognition and how the achievement came about through hard work and time management.

“As a student athlete, I had to learn to use spare moments throughout the day to study to ensure I knew the material,” she said. “I always put 100% effort into every assignment, no matter how small, and I think this dedication is what made me so successful.”

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Hartgerink recalled how she was “overwhelmed by anxiety” and how huge the task of delivering the valedictorian address on graduation night appeared for her. However, once she spoke, she said all her nervousness went away. 

“I was honored to have been chosen to impart a final message to my classmates as we went our separate ways and to end it on a positive note,” she said.

As she looks to her future, Hartgerink said she will attend the College of William and Mary, which she chose for its “outstanding” academic reputation and the sense of community she felt during her visit on accepted students day.

“The passion the students have for their interests was evident and I immediately felt at home,” she said.

Hartgerink says she plans to double major in history and environmental science to prepare for a career in environmental law. 

She said she hopes to learn from other cultures during her time in college.

“I also hope to study abroad as much as possible to learn another language and to witness different cultures and perspectives,” Hartgerink said. “I believe this will not only help me in my career, but also in life.”

While Hartgerink is not sure how she wants to make an impact in her life yet, she does express the desire to lead by example.

“In my experience, when you strive to always try your best and do the right thing, those around you see that and tend to do the same,” she said. “I want to lead my life with integrity and compassion so that I can be the kind of person people feel comfortable coming to when they have a problem.”