Our CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE is free, but producing it is not. Please help keep our newsroom on the job by subscribing now.

Top Southington students attribute success to motivation, hard work

Top Southington students attribute success to motivation, hard work

SOUTHINGTON — While their individual pursuits cover a range of academics and athletics, the top three students graduating from the high school share two keys to success — self-motivation and determination.

Sarah Meade, valedictorian of Southington High School’s class of 2020, will take on a new challenge at the University of Connecticut this fall when she sets foot on the Storrs campus.

Looking back on her four years of high school, Meade said being a member of her school’s girls and co-ed swim teams — and sports overall — were unequivocally her favorite part.

Meade relished the sense of camaraderie she forged with teammates as a member, and co-captain, of the girls swim and dive team this past year.

She said the team became like a second family.

“You all have a common goal, common interest and you’re with each other all the time,” Meade said.

Meade was admitted into UConn’s school of business and was also accepted into a pre-law program that would enable priority consideration into the university’s school of law.

Meade, who was also a member of her school’s chapter of Future Business Leaders of America throughout her four years, said she enjoyed the business and government classes she had taken in high school.

While Meade is technically entering college with an undecided major, her academic pursuits will likely combine her love for business, law and linguistics.


Zachary Kohli, 17, the class salutatorian, meanwhile, plans to study chemistry at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in the fall.

He is eyeing an eventual career in the medical field as an anesthesiologist.

“Anesthesiology would have that scientific, math component that I would really like,” Kohli said, adding that he had always seen himself as a “STEM kid,” referencing the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

Kohli said he entered high school not really knowing what kind of career he aspired to, but he took two science classes his freshman year and started getting exposed to different fields in science and medicine.

Over the course of high school he had shadowed in other medical field areas too, including orthopedics and emergency room.

During his four years Kohli had participated in a few different clubs, including his school’s Spanish club. Kohli plans to continue to develop his love for foreign languages in college.

“I’d say work ethic and motivation are just extremely important,” Kohli said, describing how he had ascended in his academic ranking throughout his four years at Southington High School.


Emily Swanson, 18, the third-ranked student of the class of 2020, will attend the University of New Haven, pursuing a dual degree in forensic science and cellular and molecular biology.

Swanson attributed her academic success to a combination of drive, effort and goal-setting. She said during her time at Southington High School many teachers encouraged and inspired her.

“I set goals for myself and always wanted to give my all in everything that I did,” Swanson said.

AP Biology, a class she took this past year, inspired her interest in science. “... [A]nd my teacher took an interest in my plans to study forensic science, so she was a source of encouragement and support for me,” Swanson said.

Different setting

The trio will enter college under a different setting than prior years’ freshman classes. Meade explained, for example, at UConn, freshmen living in dorms will not have roommates. Her own schedule will include a combination of in-person and online classes.

Still, Meade is looking forward to the experience.

“I’m looking forward to just meeting more people,” Meade said, adding she is looking forward to branching out among a diverse student base.

When asked about her current academic achievements, Meade attributed them to her self-discipline, independence and what she said was “a natural desire to learn.”

“If I want to do something, I’m going to do it. And if I’m going to do something, I will do it right. Will study, and I will work hard,” Meade said.


Our CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE is free, but producing it is not. Please help keep our newsroom on the job by subscribing now.

More From This Section

Latest Videos