Vanessa Bulerin: Path to Valedictorian Was Worth It


Photo By: Emma

Valedictorian Vanessa Bulerin stands next to the Diamond J near the front of the school.

One of the most distinguishable achievements in school is to rank number one in the class. At Judson, that honor means being the first of 689 other seniors. To do this it takes nothing less than hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Senior Vanessa Bulerin holds that title after earning the number one spot in the class of 2022 at Judson High School.

Bulerin, who has quite a lot on her plate beyond academics, can boast both Track Manager and 2nd place medalist in Medical Assistant Practicum titles, knew early on in the year that she was likely to be number one. So, her aim for the year was to stay the course. 

“Earlier this school year, I visited my counselor and she told me the news,” Bulerin said. “At that moment, when I found out that I was in the running for valedictorian I decided I was going to do everything I could to ensure I maintained my standing.”

So, the question is, what did it take to keep hold of that number one spot?

“One major thing I’ve had to give up or lose to be able to get first in the class is my free time,” said Bulerin. “There have been times where I’ve had to sacrifice hanging out with my friends and family or miss practice to study for an exam, finish a project, or revise a paper.”

Knowing she had a chance at holding the number one spot put a lot of stress on Bulerin. At one point, she even slipped to the second spot, making the stress even worse. 

“I was scared when I found out I was number one in the class. It was the beginning of the school year, and I knew that ranks were still up in the air,” Bulerin said. “When I found out I had moved down to the number two spot for a time, I was devastated and frustrated. I was putting too much pressure on myself to get the spot.”

When you think of the valedictorian your mind probably goes straight to someone with high intelligence. While that holds true, Bulerin will be the first to tell you it takes more. 

“It’s much more than just being intelligent or doing well in school. It takes a strong mindset, determination, an uplifting community, and sacrifice,” said Bulerin.

In fact, the uplifting community part, according to Bulerin, may be the most important. Revealing news of her valedictorian status led to her realizing how grateful she is for the people that helped her along the way.

“The excitement that my family, track team, CMA Practicum, and teachers and coaches showed for me when I told them, like seeing their reaction, made me realize how I wouldn’t be in this position without them,” she said.

Even after working hard and sacrificing for this role, Bulerin is still in a state of shock.

“It feels unreal to me that I hold the title as valedictorian. I always knew that I was a hard worker and I’ve always been very diligent about school but if you would have told me freshman year that I would be valedictorian, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

For others who endeavor to make the Top 10, or even the number one spot, Bulerin makes it very clear that hard work is non negotiable. She also says that prioritizing one’s well being is key.

“Despite everything that you may have to give up, you also need to prioritize time for yourself, your family, and your friends,” she said. “Without that social aspect of your life, it can become overwhelming trying to be at the top.”

For Bulerin this school year was memorable. She placed 3rd in the state for Nurse Assistant and even was crowned Judson High School’s Prom Queen two weeks ago. But she will admit that earning the Valedictorian title was hard earned and the sweetest accomplishment of them all.

“Ultimately, the hard work was worth it, and I learned a lot,” she said. “At the end of the day, you can be at the top of your class and still enjoy yourself through it all. I am thrilled and delighted to hold the title of Valedictorian. I’m content with knowing my hard work paid off.”