Two days before her high school graduation, it was hard for Emily Hammett to put into words how she felt about being named Deptford Township High School Class of 2019 valedictorian.
“I’m not sure how to describe it,” Hammett said, “but I’m happy to be where I am.”
The 18-year-old will be heading to Rowan University this fall, continuing a collegiate path to a mathematics degree, one she actually started two years ago as a high school rising junior. In addition to her heavy AP course schedule, Hammett has also been taking courses at Rowan College at Gloucester County since the summer before 11th grade. At this point, her transcript officially reflects 64 credits, but at least a few more need to be added.
Seeing her friends excel academically has been one of the biggest inspirations for the lifelong Deptford resident.
“Just in general, since I was little, I’ve always had this desire to succeed,” Hammett said. “And now that I’m older, I was able to see my friends do well, and I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps.”
Even though Hammett doesn’t know exactly what she will do with her degree – right now, she thinks teaching at a college or university is in her future – the choice to major in mathematics was an easy one for a student who was teaching herself calculus as a high school freshman.
Another easy choice for Hammett was enrolling at Rowan.
“Regardless of where I’m going, I knew I wanted to be with a community of individuals who shared my major,” Hammett said. “But I also wanted to be able to have friends, enjoy myself through college, without all the stress I’ve put on myself.”
In addition to those starting Rowan alongside her this fall, Hammett also has a number of friends currently attending the South Jersey university. Some are Deptford graduates, while others she met through her college classes or through her job as an RCGC peer tutor – a job she truly enjoyed.
“It gave my the opportunity to share my knowledge with others and help them build their skills in mathematics,” Hammett said. “And maybe I’ll be a teacher someday, so I’m hoping it will help me in the long run.”
Hammett reflects positively on her Deptford school career (a district in which she started as a preschooler), and she is especially thankful for the support of math teacher Eileen Arendt, who helped her freshman year in her calculus self study.
“Even though I wasn’t her student, she still helped me prepare for the exam I wasn’t really supposed to take for a course I was not supposed to know anything about,” Hammett said.
Despite her heavy course load, Hammett has also kept busy away from the classroom. She is a National Honor Society member, involved in a number of school clubs and organizations, and has clocked more than 300 hours of community service over her high school career, much of it with her church, Almonesson United Methodist. She also is involved with Mu Alpha Theta, the RCGC honor math society.
Hammett can’t say where her strong work ethic comes from; she just remembers always wanting to do well.
“I’ve always striven for academic excellence. Always wanted to see myself rise to my potential,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to try my hardest, do my best, see where the wind takes me.”