The Sunday edition of the Providence Journal ran a feature on all of the valedictorians from this year’s graduating classes around the state. That’s the sort of thing that can only happen in a state the size of Rhode Island. Interestingly, beyond listing their name and photo as well as their plans for college, it listed their career goal and their idea for helping America. There were a total of 54 valedictorians included in the story. Women were in the majority, representing 37 of the 54 top-ranked students. Even more impressive, is the number of individuals who aspire to a career in medicine or a health care-related profession.
Out of the 54 students, 23 are health care bound. Of course, they are young and their college years may lead them down many different paths, but right now 11 want to be doctors, 4 want to be pharmacists, and the remainder aspire to other positions in nursing, microbiology, and biomedical engineering. That should tell us a couple of things. First, that our society places an extraordinary amount of importance on the health care field. That is most assuredly the explanation for so many individuals making plans to pursue health careers. Second, it shows us that our brightest high school students plan to go on to work in health care, which is encouraging. Of course, graduating at the top of your high school class is by no means a perfect predictor of life success. I know at least one valedictorian that enjoyed college a bit too much and seemed to fizzle out, just as I know plenty of other folks who might not have had the chance to speak at their graduation ceremonies, but are now enjoying the fruits of their hard work.
Nevertheless, it is fun to think about the potential that these young people represent, to admire their hard work so far, and to dream along with them as they set out to pursue their ambitious goals. And, to the one young woman about to head off to Yale, whose career goal is “to be Tony Stark” I applaud the enormity of your vision, but perhaps you might want to consider working in health care.