What Westlake valedictorian Michael Diamond found most inspirational about high school is what he can't wait to get in college intellectual discussion.
"Sometimes teachers take class discussions on what students think is a tangent, and then you realize later the discussion was the lesson," Diamond, 18, said. "Those 'tangents' are often the most memorable parts of a class."
A natural academic, Westlake High School 's highest-achieving student counts the former Czech president and writer Vaclav Havel, and Indian-American author and international relations expert Fareed Zakaria, among his favorite authors. He's learning Portuguese on his own, in lieu of his senior internship.
He's also a leader and go-getter, having served as the president of the school's debate team, the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, a student council member and editor of the yearbook. Volunteer work also features prominently in his schedule, and his summer will be spent working for New York State Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer .
But he still considers himself normal 18-year-old, and likes to noodle around on the computer, using Photoshop to alter photos he takes artistic effect, and he sometimes neglects his guitar studies. "I should really practice more," he admitted.
Diamond chose his college the way most students do, by opting for the best school that's a good fit and which offers the best financial package.
"I knew money was going to be an issue, so even though I could probably get into a lot of great schools, I needed to pick the one that could give me the most help," Diamond said.
He won acceptance to the highly competitive Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship , which offers full tuition support and an advanced academic program to a select group of students who must maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average while demonstrating intellectual and community leadership with the goal of forging interdisciplinary and interpersonal connections that unite people and ideas.
The scholars fr??m??????????? their own community within the school, meeting at least weekly to discuss their progress with the oversight of a faculty director. Diamond said he is particularly looking forward to this experience.
?As for his post-college plans, he said, "I always know what I want I do, but I change my mind every two weeks, practically," he said. In the past, he? ?s?a?i?d? ?h?e's wanted to pursue a career in journalism, or academia, or government and politics.
?He ?a?d?d?e?d? ?t?h?a?t? he? ?t?h?i?n?k?s? ?h?e'll likely end up doing a fusion of them?.?????????? Currently he's interested in the intersection of international relations and climatology. "I'm interested in carbon sequestration, reforesting is really critical, and I'm interested in alternative energy and geoengineering," he said. The latter involves technologies to counteract climate change.
?As for his immediate responsibilities of being valedictorian, Diamond said he's planning to keep his graduation speech short and humorous, yet still meaningful. "People remember humorous speeches," he said.
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