A family affair leads Denton High grad to Harvard


  • Denton High School senior Emily Young is one of 23 valedictorians in her graduating class, but she is unique in one regard. Emily is following in the footsteps of her older brother, Caden Young, who also earned valedictorian honors at DHS as a member of the class of 2019.

    Inherently, there is a lot of pressure that comes with finishing at the top of your class, but when your older brother did the same just two years ahead of you, the pressure is magnified.

    “Throughout high school, I knew I had to live up to my brother because he set such a high bar,” said Emily. “My mom was always very supportive and just super proud of both of us. But for me, it was just that I knew in my head that because my brother was a valedictorian that I wanted to be one as well even though my family wasn’t explicit about it. Now that it’s happened, it’s just cool to say my brother was a valedictorian and so was I.”

    Making her plight to become valedictorian such a compelling one was that Emily chose to attend Denton High virtually this school year due to the pandemic. She became accustomed to joining Zoom calls.

    Emily worked part-time at a local pizza establishment while participating in several extracurricular organizations at Denton High. She served as Lieutenant Governor for the KEY Club, overseeing eight different clubs within her school’s region as well as being on district committees throughout Texas and Oklahoma.

    She also served as vice president of the National Honor Society and a member of the Spanish National Honor Society. Despite being away from the campus physically, having such a full plate helped Emily feel connected while at Denton High.

    “One of the positive aspects of doing ConnectedLearning was that it allowed me to balance all that I had going on in my life during my senior year,” said Emily. “I did enjoy learning virtually. But as a side benefit, I think it allowed me to focus on applying to colleges first of all and applying myself to both my work and all of my extracurriculars that I had going on this school year.”

    In the fall, Emily will attend Harvard University and major in Government. After that, she has her sights set on attending law school.

    “I plan to pursue a career in law and work to find justice for people in my future community,” said Emily. “My dream is to work in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in either the Special Victims Bureau, prosecuting criminal cases and helping victims find justice and retribution, or in the Conviction Integrity Unit, examining and analyzing past cases and appeals to reform the justice system itself.”

    Lofty goals, but for a young woman who has accomplished just about everything she’s set her mind to during her first 18 years on this earth, nothing is impossible. And, as she departs high school and soon heads east to college, Emily continues to dream big. 

    “I do not know if I will ever change the world, but I hope to be a part of the change,” she said.