Holly A. Robillard remembers first coming into high school and being the "scared nerd" hanging out by herself.
"I knew that I wanted to try everything and be as confident and accomplished as the seniors I saw walking the halls," Robillard said.
Now a senior, Robillard has accomplished that and much more. She has earned the right to be named Valedictorian for her senior class at Berlin High School this year.
Throughout her high school career, she has excelled in the most rigorous coursework available in all subject areas. Teachers comment on her exceptional effort, insightful class participation, and positive attitude. Robillard's first love is math and science, and she has found the perfect marriage of her creativity and aptitude for problem solving in the field of engineering at the University of Connecticut. She understands the importance of hard work and perseverance, she isn’t afraid to ask questions or seek extra help, and group members enjoy working collaboratively with her because of her positive approach to her studies, her eagerness to take on a challenge, and her warm personality.
"I spent a lot of time visiting my teachers," she said. "That helped them know I cared about the class and showed that I was taking charge of my performance and the teachers like that. When you do that they re also willing to open up and help you become more prepared for tests and problems that may come up."
Robillard said one of biggest tips she can give to students is to take good notes.
"Good note-taking is a key," she said. "A lot of students will only take notes that are on the board instead of what the teachers are saying. I also think you should test yourself and take as many AP classes as you can. Some would say its better to get an A in an Honors class than a B in an AP class. I found the more AP classes I took, the more motivated I was."
Robillard is also an active participant in the Berlin community. She is member of the Drama Club and Co-Captain of the Debate Team, responsibilities that have required her to learn how to motivate her peers and to keep them focused and organized. She also dedicates her time to community service, such as the UpBeat Peer Leadership Program, a student-led organization that creates and implements community service projects.
She is a member of the Teen Advisory Council at the local library, whose goal is to increase teen participation at the library. Because she genuinely enjoys helping others, Holly volunteers as a writing tutor at BHS. Additionally, she and a partner teach "Bollywood" dance lessons at a local studio. She initiated an independent study last semester at BHS where she and a partner are teaching similar dance classes to juniors and seniors during a PE class.
"I think I'm in 15 clubs and activities," Robillard said. "I love the debate team because it helps with public speaking and how to organize your opinion. I love 'Bollywood' dancing. It is my cultural exploration and it helped me come out of my shell. UpBeat has shown me the meaning of volunteering and that is something that I hope to continue in college and after college. Tutoring has been great as well. I'm able to help others but they energize me when they conquer something they didn't think they could do. It's great to see what they can accomplish when they work hard."
Robillard applied to and was accepted into seven schools but chose UConn because of its strong focus in science and match. She chose UConn over RPI, Carnegie-Mellon, Northeastern, Drexel, RIT and Rochester.
"I'm not that scared kid anymore," she added. "I was in the school play and musical this spring and all my experiences have totally taken me out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be a confident senior and I think I accomplished that."