Her first day as a freshman, Emma Greene set a goal to become class valedictorian. After facing unique challenges and setbacks, and with the love and support of her family and friends, Greene has prevailed.
Greene’s high school journey has been difficult. She attended classes on campus her freshman and sophomore years. But Greene has Cystic Fibrosis, a disorder that creates chronic respiratory problems.
So, on the advice of her doctors, she was taught at home by Lodi High faculty her junior and senior years. She has endured many treatments, numerous hospitalizations, and is on oxygen 24 hours a day.
“I am proud to be valedictorian. I don’t think it has really all soaked in yet,” she said recently. “It was a group effort. I got to the point I am today with help from my parents and an understanding and inspirational set of teachers and counselors.”
Greene is diligent. She tackles homework first, before TV or Facebook.
“She is amazingly organized,” said Jacqueline Heinrich, who taught Greene advanced history and psychology. “She can finish work in an hour that can take other students five hours.”
Greene is also creative and detail-oriented. In her history class, she prepared a “decade report” on a period of U.S. History. Greene prepared the report in the form of a newspaper from the period, complete with photos and headlines.
“Everything about it was so meticulous, from the kind of font she used to the kind of paper she chose,” Heinrich said.
Greene’s parents, Mick and Hayley, and her younger brother, Joseph, who is graduating from Elkhorn School this week, have helped Greene on her academic journey. Mick is an accomplished woodworker and an omnivorous reader, especially of the classics. Hayley designs and creates specialized mascot outfits from home.
“They all take great pride in Emma,” Heinrich said. “It’s a very special family.”
Greene’s challenges did not stop her from having an enriching high school experience.
She participated in the Storm Drain Detectives program, which helps monitor the quality of the Mokelumne River. She was involved in the Science, Art and Poetry clubs. She attended the Bacon Bash and the prom.
In her graphic design class, she created a board game based on Greek mythology. But her favorite class was European history. Her parents are from England, so the class offered her a glimpse of her family’s own history.
She competed in the Science Olympiad, earning a medal in ornithology at the state finals. (While she was being treated at Stanford, Greene’s mother sent her a photo of a bird that was visiting their backyard in Lodi. Greene identified it instantly: a cedar waxwing.)
She finished with a 4.5 grade-point average, lofted by numerous Advanced Placement courses.
Greene is on the list to receive a double lung and liver transplant at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University. She has deferred classes at UC Davis until after the transplant, though it is not clear yet when that will be.
(Earlier this week, she got a call saying a transplant donor was available, but later learned the donor’s lungs were too large. So she returned to Lodi with her family and continued plans for graduation.)
After the transplant, she plans to enter a program at Davis exploring evolution, ecology and biodiversity.
She loves nature and “Animal Planet.” Eventually, she would like to be a wildlife researcher.
In recent days, Greene spent many hours writing and polishing her valedictory address.
The theme was one Greene is uniquely qualified to discuss: Achieving your goals.
Contact editor Rich Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.