As she prepares to move on to a promising college career at the University of Pennsylvania, Lynbrook High School’s Class of 2012 Valedictorian Ilana Ajzenman will be remembered by many as a determined student who never took the easy way out.
Among her many academic accomplishments, Ajzenman was named a National Merit Commended Student and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She was also an active member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society.
A member of her high school’s science research program, Ajzenman conducted stem cell research at NYU Hospital, submitting her work to the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search and various other science competitions. She also captained the Math Team and was selected to represent her school at the Nassau County Math Competition.
In addition, Ajzenman rose from the ranks of reporter to become the managing editor of Lynbrook’s award-winning high school newspaper, Horizon.
A gifted vocalist, she was an All-County performer who participated in her school’s musical productions every year since she was a freshman.
As an athlete, Ajzenman captained the junior varsity cheerleading squad for three years before becoming a varsity cheerleader in her senior year.
And although it may not seem like there could possibly be enough hours in the day, Ajzenman still managed to find time to volunteer at the Peninsula Counseling Center Friends Program, to serve on the Lynbrook High School Compact Committee, to organize events for the Leadership Club, and to volunteer her time as a tutor.
Of all these accomplishments, the one she is most proud of is her work in science research culminating in her Intel research paper. “Though I encountered many setbacks during my research, I believe the work I performed will be helpful for future researchers, since it provides a basis for the application of human embryonic stem cells in regenerative medicine,” Ajzenman said.
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Although she has yet to pick a career path, Ajzenman says she can picture herself being very happy as a doctor, dentist, researcher or teacher. “With the wide opportunities that have been afforded to me, I have the potential to be just about anything,” she said.
“My most special memory is AP Chemistry with Mr. Wolber,” Ajzenman said. “In his class, I always expected to learn much and laugh often, and I found myself intrigued by topics ranging from oxidation-reduction reactions to chemical bonding. It was this class that inspired me to pursue chemistry in college. My favorite memory of it was when we prepared our own ice cream using liquid nitrogen — it actually tasted quite good!”
Her friends describe Ajzenman as someone who has always been passionate about her studies, but they will also remember her as a well-rounded person who is vibrant, caring and friendly.
“The most difficult thing I learned in high school was not to let the little things bother me,” said Ajzenman, noting that even as valedictorian, “It is not the grades that truly matter. Anyone can get a 100 on a test, but what people remember is how you do what you do. I have embraced the journey that has gotten me to this point and look forward to the many successes and learning opportunities that life has in store for me.”
When asked to name the most influential people in her life, Ajzenman picked her parents without hesitation.
“I love them immensely because they support me unconditionally and inspire me every day to be the best person I can be," she said. "They have definitely made me the strong, determined and intelligent woman I am today.”
Her parting words of advice to incoming freshmen are to get involved in the Lynbrook community as early as possible.
“There are so many opportunities for students of all interests," she said. "A laundry list of clubs is not important — it’s the involvement that counts!”
These are sound words of advice from someone who has mastered the art of getting involved.