WHS valedictorian Li bound for the 'U'
Sheri Li never saw herself rising to the top of her class.
But in her junior year, the Woodbury High School student opened up her report card and saw that her class rank had jumped to No. 2.
Then it hit her. If she put in the work, she could get there -- "and what a great thing that would be," she said.
Li attained that goal and was named valedictorian for the class of 2012.
"It hasn't hit me," she said last month of the achievement.
Her chief responsibility as the WHS valedictorian will be to give a speech during commencement, held at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 3, at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood.
She was still soliciting ideas mid-May for the speech. Should it be funny? Witty?
"There's a lot of pressure," Li said.
A fan of math and the sciences, Li plans to study biological sciences at the University of Minnesota this fall. She leaves behind a high school career marked with stellar grades, heavy advanced-placement coursework and a National Merit Award finalist distinction.
"I can't say that I disliked any of my classes," Li said.
Outside the classroom, she served as Key Club president, a Math League member, a member of the National Honor Society, Link Crew and captain of the Royals' swimming team, where she earned all-conference honors.
Looking further out, Li said she could envision herself becoming involved in neuroscience. She has volunteered at a nursing home and spent time on a floor for Alzheimer's patients.
She said she would like to cure diseases like Alzheimer's "and hopefully contribute to something great."
Li said her motivation began with her parents.
"I really want to make them proud," she said.
Over time, that desire turned into personal goals that Li went after.
"If I know that I can do it, I will do my best," the 18-year-old said.
She said coaches and teachers have also had a big influence.
"They definitely have helped me develop in terms of goal setting and my mental strength," Li said.
When she's not studying or swimming, Li said she enjoys baking. Her specialty: fudge.