Above: Elizabeth Phelps was named Napoleon High School 2020 Valedictorian. Her story can be found below.
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Elizabeth Phelps to attend MSU to become a pediatrician
By John Hummer
Congratulations to Elizabeth Phelps, the Napoleon High School Class of 2020 valedictorian!
Elizabeth will be graduating with a 4.057 grade point average and is well on her way to years of success in college and her professional career.
“I never had an A- throughout my high school career,” Elizabeth said proudly.
Elizabeth will be attending Michigan State University in the fall and will work toward a major in biomedical engineering. She then plans to continue on with medical school to become a pediatrician.
“I love kids and just want to help them out and make sure they are healthy,” she says.
As a result of taking several advanced placement courses throughout high school, she will be starting at MSU with 27 credits already under her belt.
As to the abrupt early ending to the school year due to Covid-19, Elizabeth says, “Covid and the way things ended really put into perspective how fast things can change and how you really have to cherish what you have in the moment.”
Elizabeth and her family now reside in Brooklyn on Lake Columbia, but she grew up in Napoleon and chose to stay in Napoleon Schools after the move prior to her starting fifth grade.
Elizabeth is the daughter of Ron and Geri Phelps. She has an older brother, Nathan, who will be a sophomore at MSU in the fall studying mechanical engineering. The green and white obviously runs in the family. She has a family dog named Lexie, a Welsh springer spaniel.
“She’s about a year old and is my favorite dog in the world,” Elizabeth says with joy in her voice. “She is so much fun and loves to swim and go for walks.”
Elizabeth had three teachers who really helped steer her to the path of science in which she is embarking upon.
“My biggest influence when I was younger was my multi-age teacher, Mrs. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “She’s the one that really helped me fall in love with learning because she made it really fun. That’s when I started focusing on really learning and being able to read and write.”
Little did Elizabeth know that Mrs. Collins’ class pet, a gerbil, would be such an influence on her life as well.
“That just made me fall in love with animals and science in general,” she said. From elementary school on, her favorite subject has always been science.
“I’ve known since I was little that I wanted to go into the health care field,” she says. “I haven’t always been the healthiest kid.” Elizabeth shared that she had many ear infections and had two back-to-back surgeries in eighth and ninth grades.
“I had a lot of experience with all types of doctors, so I knew that I wanted to be able to help people the way that I have been helped,” she explained.
She credits her sophomore science courses with teachers Matt Keeler and Adam Draa as the next biggest influences on her academic road. She took biology with Mr. Keeler and astronomy and earth science with Mr. Draa.
“Mr. Keeler not only fed off my curiosity, but pushed me to go even further with it,” Elizabeth noted. “Mr. Draa was just such a personable teacher that made class interesting and treated us like young adults. He held conversations with us that made the information that he was trying to teach a little bit easier to understand.”
As if studying to earn straight A’s throughout high school wasn’t enough, Elizabeth participated in a full array of extracurricular activities, but she always put them in proper perspective.
“School always came first along with family and that sort of stuff,” she noted. “I focused on getting my homework done. If I had a spare minute during my school day, I would try to get as much homework done as possible so that I didn’t have to take it home.”
Elizabeth was a three-sport varsity athlete running cross country and track and playing basketball. She was president of the Napoleon Class of 2020, president of the National Honor Society, and participated on the school’s Wellness Day committee. Elizabeth also volunteered with Student Council activities, helping plan Napoleon’s Thanksgiving and Christmas giving programs, among many others. She was also in the Robotics Club at Napoleon High School and participated in the Robofest World Championship at Lawrence Tech University her sophomore year.
“I met teams from Ghana, France, Canada, Mexico – from all over the world,” she stated.
Elizabeth also participated in Girl Scouts throughout her school years, earning her bronze and silver awards for completing numerous activities. One that touches her heart in particular was restoring dressers for St. Rita’s Baby Love program and providing onesies, diapers, and baby wipes for mothers who couldn’t afford them.
“It’s all been for the community,” she said in her humble manner. “They’ve given me so much already – I just wanted to give back to them. I want to thank my parents and my community for always supporting me.”
When Elizabeth has free time, she enjoys being out on Lake Columbia jet skiing and boating, weather permitting.
“It really helps me clear my head and relax,” she says. “If I’m inside, I really like to read. It helps me focus on another place to help me get ahold of my situation and life.”
Indeed, Elizabeth has a firm grip on life and where she is headed. Her future child patients will be thankful she chose the path she is following.
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The joy of the Lord is your strength. Neh. 8:10