No test is too tough for Emily Curatolo, who always strives for academic excellence.
- Graduated from East Ridge High School in 2020.
- Maintained a 5.2 grade-point average.
- Completed 14 advanced placement (AP) classes.
- Now a freshman at the University of Florida.
You took many college-level classes at East Ridge. How did you balance that with a social life? I’m pretty introverted and not really a social person in general. I would make an organized agenda for each day. Some nights I would stay up studying until 4am and get two hours of sleep. However, I think that sacrifice was worth it. I was very dedicated and wanted to challenge myself.
How did you feel about receiving a $10,000 scholarship from Project Scholars, a nonprofit organization in Clermont? I was shocked. Truthfully, I had forgotten I even applied for that scholarship because I was so busy filling out so much paperwork for college. To be chosen as one of four recipients out of hundreds who applied was a big honor.
Why did you choose to attend the University of Florida? My brother, who is six years older than me, attended UF. Growing up, my family would go visit him in Gainesville and attend football and basketball games. I always envisioned myself going there. I love the campus, and I love the proximity to Clermont. Also, it’s one of the top academic universities in the state and seemed like a really good fit.
What is your proudest accomplishment as a student? My volunteer work. I volunteered at an assisted-living facility in Clermont and met so many interesting people. I would plan events, play trivia games with the residents and plan Halloween parties. I felt I made a difference in their lives, and that made me proud.
Tell me three adjectives that best describe yourself: Determined, caring and hopeful.
It was unfortunate that the coronavirus hit during your senior year of high school. How did you cope? It was upsetting that we didn’t get a prom or graduation bash, but we did have a graduation ceremony a few months later. I think that helped provide some closure that seemed to be missing.
Did going through that adversity teach you a life lesson? Going through that showed me what is important in life and what we should value. The connection with your friends and family is much more powerful than any graduation bash or prom.
Your generation is known for being technologically savvy and frequent users of social media. Do you prefer face-to-face interaction or communicating electronically? I prefer face-to-face. There’s just something about laughing with someone in person and getting to look into their eyes and really connecting with each other.
The country has lots of social unrest. How do you feel your generation will solve this problem? My generation handles issue by being very vocal about them with social media and reaching a larger group of people. We are not shy when it comes to being vocal about things that need to change.
So, this year you will finally be old enough to vote, right? Yes, and I’m going to vote. I’m excited because this is the first time my voice can actually be heard. I’m voting for someone who I feel will do the best things for our country, and that’s something I’ve never been able to do before.
Your generation has been referred to as the mass shooting generation. Since Parkland, did you ever worry about a mass shooting at your school? Some kids make jokes to cope with the fact it is possible that there could be a mass shooting. I don’t think every kid goes to school each day in fear that a mass shooting could happen, but the Parkland shooting did make it more of a reality because it hit so close to home.
Tell me something about yourself that very few people know. I’m a lot more disorganized than I seem on the outside. A lot of people assume I’ve got everything together and that I’m an organized person and I know what’s going on when things are happening. Meanwhile, I’m a mess on the inside. I tend to be crazy, funny and just let loose a lot of times. I have a quirky side that most people don’t really see.
Future plans: I want to be in a medical-related field to help people. I am still deciding whether to major in biomedical engineering, biochemistry or pre-med biology. I’m leaning toward biomedical engineering, which would allow me to create technologies that are therapeutic.