Academics are important, but for many high schoolers, academics may not be the sole focus in the four years spent before the end of their secondary education.
That, however, is not the case for Emma Torija, daughter of Fernando and Deanna Torija.
The Shippensburg Area Senior High School student eagerly accepts the challenge of an intense course load.
Between her sophomore and junior years, Torija completed six advanced placement courses. She will finish out her high school career with an additional four AP courses this school year.
“I’m my most proud of my success in school,” Torija said. “My parents really encouraged me to work hard, so I’ve done that, and even like from elementary school, I’ve done my hardest and I’ve learned a lot. Now, in high school, I’m getting good grades, but I’m also working and doing other things. I’m proud of my ability to succeed with all of that.”
Torija holds a 4.22 cumulative GPA.
If that demanding course load was not enough, Torija said one of her big regrets – one of the things she wishes she could have done in high school – was to take more advanced level classes.
“I have trouble fitting all the classes I want to take into my schedule,” she said. “I wanted to take AP Calculus this year but I already had four AP classes and the way they’re set up you can only take four.”
Keeping up good grades can be difficult in and of itself, especially when taking rigorous classes, but Torija does not stop there.
Torija is the president of student council, holds down a part time job, is a member of several civic and scholarly clubs and is a student representative on the school board.
“I started doing student council my sophomore year just because it was there and I really liked it,” Torija said. She said she likes “being able to change things at the school and make decisions and help students.”
She joked that one of the major accomplishments of her time has been the addition of Keurig coffee machines in the school library.
“That was like a big thing,” she chuckled.
“Torija meets all of these responsibilities with assurance and a genuine sense of dedication,” Michelle Dubbs, counselor at the high school, wrote in her letter of recommendation. “Few students could achieve her academic and personal success while maintaining this intense schedule of after school employment, programs, class session sand other obligations.”
After high school, Torija said she hopes to go to Columbia University to study biology and later enter medicine.
She said an internship at Chambersburg Hospital during junior year sparked an interest in the medical field.