PLYMOUTH - Terryville High School valedictorian Arianna Lance knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life at an early age.
Lance’s father died of a heart attack in 2014, when Lance was 10 years old.
“I knew I wanted to go into the medical field before that, I just didn’t have a specific area I was focused on. But then, I decided to focus on the heart,” Lance said.
Lance decided then she would become a cardiothoracic surgeon, a surgeon that specializes in organs in the chest, including the heart. To achieve that goal, she decided she would be valedictorian of her school, go to Yale University for her undergraduate degree and attend John Hopkins University for medical school.
Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out exactly the way Lance had planned.
“I applied to a lot of Ivy Leagues. I got waitlisted at some of them; I got a lot of rejections,” Lance said. “It was hard at first, but a lot of my rejection letters said it was a very hard year to apply to colleges because there were a lot of applications. So I’m trying not to look at it as a fault in myself but as just not the right time to apply to those schools.”
Lance will attend the University of Connecticut next year under The Major Experience program, which will allow her to explore different majors. She plans to enroll in UConn’s Special Program in Medicine. Lance still hopes to become a cardiothoracic surgeon one day.
During her time at Terryville High School, Lance was a student council member and a member of the National Honors Society. She also participated in the color guard and the chorus.
In her valedictorian speech, Lance reminded her peers that even if their plans for the future do not work out exactly as they envisioned, they will find their own path, like she did.
“Life is messy and it is not always meant to have strict plans because nobody really knows what the future holds,” Lance said. “I have now learned that it is okay if your plan does not play out exactly as you expected. Therefore, I want all of my classmates to understand that even if you have certain plans that get messed up or thrown off track, do not let it discourage you from your goals, because you will find your path.”
Lance said she included her story in her speech to remind her classmates that doing well in school isn’t everything.
“Even though I did do well in high school, my high school experience wasn’t as great as it could have been because of all the stress I put on myself. So I wanted to let them know that it’s OK to have fun and enjoy life instead of just working hard 24/7,” Lance said.