Class of 2023 Valedictorian Profile: Ryan Li

After four years of high school with lots of unique experiences and achievements, the Class of 2023 is prepared to graduate. In the top three of the class, Ryan Li has worked hard to make an impact on others in his communities.

Li has strived for quite a long time in order to complete his high school education with good grades. Through studying hard and working to achieve his goals, Li felt as though he learned a lot about life. He explained that “life can be hard but you just have to punch through,” in order to keep going.

But at the same time, Li feels that this moment in his life is “kinda nerve-wracking, you’ve gone through 17 years of your life,” officially 12 of which were spent in school. Now, he and his class are just sort of expected to know what to do. 

Upon discussing this accomplishment Li confesses that his goal was not to end up in the top three, but rather he aimed to work hard no matter what. Li explained that “in life, things aren’t going to be top three,” so naturally the most important thing he feels he learned while in high school was to “build those consistencies” that would be useful throughout life.

Outside of school, Li enjoys engaging in many extracurricular activities and clubs such as Speech and Debate or Youth and Government, as well as playing sports like Crew and Swimming. When it comes to personal hobbies, Li enjoys many of the regular high school pleasures such as hanging out with friends, watching anime, and playing video games.

Photo submitted by Ryan Li.

However, he also enjoys looking deeply into history. Whether it be researching and understanding historical battle tactics, or creating his own, Li simply enjoys doing his best to understand different historical events.

In fact, this interest in history is what stemmed Li’s desire to go into political science, specifically being an International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis major. Li explained that for him, “history was first a hobby and then a career aspect.” But as he got older and farther into high school he realized that “there are many different avenues that I can go through,” pertaining to history. And so he did his research before finally settling on the major he is now under.

Throughout Li’s journey, a great supporter has been History Teacher and Speech and Debate Advisor Kurtis Scheer who Li has known since his freshman year, and who has “kept me going,” according to Li.

Scheer describes Li as “a real student of history,” who has evolved so much as a student here at MHS. He has “truly grown as a speaker, student, and as a real leader for his class and club and everything that he is involved with,” according to Scheer.

Throughout the years, Scheer enjoyed watching Li become more and more confident in his abilities. Because he has had the honor of being with Li throughout his four years, he cannot wait to see where the future takes him. “He’s going to be more than successful,” no matter where he ends up.

One of Li’s closest friends is Zhi Zhu, reporter for The Blue and Gold. Ever since they were kids, Zhu feels that he and Li were able to support each other throughout their different life experiences. According to Zhu, Li is a confident person who is always open to hearing the opinions of others.

“When I look at Ryan I see a respected, responsible person who has integrity and is able to get things done,” Zhu explained. Zhu also explained that Li is a profound person who “has been able to inspire me to be a person who thinks more critically.” When talking about Zhu, Li feels that “it’s a mutual connection,” between the two of them, as they continue to support and inspire one another.

As Li prepares to graduate he takes with him the many lessons he has learned and the many experiences he has gained. One thing that Li feels is most important is to acknowledge that “we all have limitations and that is what makes us human.”

Li encourages others in his class to “be the best you can be.” He encourages each and every student to remember to put themself first when it comes to choosing the right avenue for them. Finally, he reminds all to “[ensure] that you are working as hard as you can.”

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