Being called to see the dean’s office could only be bad news.
That was the first thought in Emily Elliott’s mind. She was in class at Roncalli High School when a student messenger summoned her to talk to the dean of students, Tim Puntarelli. Panic flooded her thoughts as she pondered what exactly could be wrong.
“I was so confused. I’d never been to his office before, so I was freaking out,” she said.
The meeting was to inform the Roncalli senior that she had been named co-salutatorian for her class.
“It’s very exciting. It’s nice to see that all of my hard work the past four years have paid off,” she said.
Heading into her freshman year at the University of Illinois, Elliott feels confident that her time at Roncalli has prepared her to succeed. She plans to study mathematics with the hope to be an actuary.
Math has always been Elliott’s strongest subject. The concrete ability to find answers to problems appeals to her, she said. The subject also provided her with an opportunity to grow.
She found herself struggling with calculus this year. It was the first time that she had to work harder and harder to excel at a class.
“That was scary to me because math came so easy to me,” she said. “But it was fun in a way because I had to get my mind focused and work out the problems so I could understand the ideas.”
Elliott hopes that the experience will help her adapt when a concept, a class or a project isn’t going smoothly. She’ll have confidence in herself that she can navigate through difficulty and come out successfully.
“If you’re struggling with something, you can’t let that get to you too much,” she said. “You have to work past it, knowing that working hard will pay off.”
Elliott was a cheerleader all four years in high school and ran track for two years.
Being on a team was another opportunity for growth and learning that should help her in the future.
“I was around these girls for so much time. We were together from summer all the way through basketball season,” she said. “You learn to be a good leader but also how to know when to work together.”