After moving to America from China in seventh grade, valedictorian Xiaojin Dai faced the challenge of learning English and familiarizing herself with American culture.

“[My greatest struggle as a student was] English. I took twice or triple the time to read and understand [material] compared to my friends,” Dai said.

In high school, Dai participated in on-campus clubs including Science Olympiad, Key Club, French Club, French Honor Society, National Honor Society and Math Club. Her fondest memories were of the UCF High School Programming Tournament, FIRST Robotics Competition, Lockheed Robotic Competition and a music video project for Christopher Parrett’s U.S. History class. From the programming events, Dai found her niche in computer science.

“[My biggest achievement during high school was] joining FIRST Robotic Competition team 5816 Gra-V and going to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee for a competition during spring break,” Dai said.

Dai’s favorite teachers throughout high school were Parrett, Glenn Listort (AP Chemistry), Teresa Tachon (AP Calculus AB), Arup Guha (programming at UCF) and James Elswick. Even though she enjoyed Parrett’s class, she considered it to be the most difficult.

“[[To pass the class,] I read the textbook chapter by chapter, page by page, word by word,” Dai said.

In her spare time, Dai watched documentaries, read or learned anything she found interesting. She also enjoyed watching The Man from Earth because of the people’s reactions in the film.

Dai did not find having a 4.0 GPA important until her senior year. To her, trust was the most important aspect of becoming valedictorian.

“[A valedictorian or salutatorian should have] faith in the capability of oneself and their parents or guardians as well as their educators,” Dai said.

Dai plans to attend the University of Central Florida to major in computer science.

By Shayna Eaton

I'm a Legend yearbook staffer and I love sleeping with my dogs, annoying my cat and eating Cheez-Its.

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