Amy Bader was the valedictorian for the class of 1987 at Lodi High School.
What was your favorite memory from high school?
I have so many great memories from high school; it is difficult to pick a favorite. I think of my time at Lodi High as lots of little moments strung together into one incredibly important life experience.
What are you doing now?
First and foremost, I have a beautiful and amazing daughter who will be entering first grade in the fall. I love being a mom! It’s the best “job” in the world. Professionally, I am a naturopathic doctor practicing in both Portland, Oregon and Lodi. Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and cutting edge natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ ability to ward off and combat disease. I live in Portland where I also teach at the America’s oldest and, in my opinion, best naturopathic medical school. It has been really fun and incredibly rewarding to return to Lodi each month to see patients. I feel strongly about helping people in the Lodi community who want to achieve a better level of health.
What one thing did you learn or retain from high school that got you where you are today?
I learned persistence, tenacity and to never give up on my goals. When I was in 8th grade, I went to Lodi High’s graduation with my dad to watch a neighbor graduate. When they announced the valedictorians, I asked my dad what that meant. He answered, and with that, I told him I would be valedictorian someday. He smiled and said, “I’m sure you will if you want to.” I smiled back at him and nodded. “Yes.” The rest is history.
What was most challenging about high school and how did you get through it?
I think high school is a challenging time for so many people. It is a time when we are working to figure out who we are and what our priorities should be — no easy task in the middle of a sea of peer pressure and ever changing hormones. For me, the biggest challenges were overcoming my shyness and balancing the tasks at hand, all while worrying about my mother’s illness. In retrospect, I just focused on taking one day at a time.
Was there anybody in high school who really made a difference for you? If so, how?
All of my teachers inspired me. Some of my most vivid recollections include memorizing a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Mrs. Gavin’s sophomore English class. “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?” (You’re right, Mrs. Gavin! You said we would remember these quotes the rest of our lives. Obviously, I have!) I remember being completely in awe of (and petrified by) Mr. Anthony’s American History exams. However, Mr. Hall, my physics teacher, made a large impact on my life. When he found out I was on track to major in business in college, he encouraged me to study science instead. He assured me I was really good at science and it would be a shame if I didn’t pursue more education in that field. Even though I still majored in business, his comment in high school instilled so much confidence it directly influenced my decision to go back to school to complete my premed and pursue a career in healthcare. Today, I can proudly call myself a “science geek” thanks to Mr. Hall.
Is there anything you regret about your high school experience?
No! I wouldn’t change anything. My experience at Lodi High helped mold me into the person I am today. I am very grateful!
What advice would you give high school students today?
Do not ever let anyone convince you that you can’t accomplish whatever you seek to accomplish. Not Ever! Find those people who believe in you, and surround yourself with them. In the moments when you doubt yourself, they will be there to remind you of your strengths. Einstein said, “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” You must always remain confident in your life, and with that you can achieve anything.
Name the best thing about Lodi.
Each month when I return to Lodi, I am reminded of my home town’s sense of community. When I walk into Bon Appétit, Sheri’s Sonshine, or many other places in Lodi, people are friendly and remember my name. It’s a really, really nice feeling.