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Stellar grades place Duan as Bob Jones valedictorian

MADISON – Joy Duan has earned the outstanding distinction of 2020 valedictorian at Bob Jones High School.

About a week before graduation, Bob Jones Principal Sylvia Lambert called Duan with the good news. “When I found out I was valedictorian, I was definitely happy but also a little nervous because I would need to prepare a speech,” Duan said.

Duan’s motive for taking so many advanced placement or AP classes or compiling top-ranking grades was not to achieve valedictorian status. “I wanted a high GPA so I could qualify for scholarships and competitive programs at universities,” she said.

“Overall, I also appreciate the challenge that AP classes offer … learning the class topics in more detail,” Duan said. “It wasn’t until the beginning of my senior year that becoming the valedictorian seemed like something tangible and reachable, rather than a concept to be considered in the future.”

Duan’s final GPA rounded to 5.44.

Duan’s major awards National Merit Finalist, Yale Book Award, Seal of Biliteracy, National AP Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction and U.S. Presidential Scholar Semifinalist.

Of all her honors, she is proudest of the Yale Book Award. Duan’s teachers nominated her. “It meant a lot that they thought highly enough of me. My teachers are some of my favorite people on this planet,” Duan said.

At Bob Jones, Duan served as President of Science National Honor Society and Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society; Vice President, Spanish Honor Society; Service Project Coordinator, National Honor Society; and a member of Mu Alpha Theta and National English Honor Society.

She also participated with Student Ambassadors and Math Team. Instructing math sessions with the Beast Academy program was among Duan’s all-time favorite volunteering positions.

Away from campus, Duan volunteered at Land Trust of North Alabama, along with Huntsville, Madison and Crestwood hospitals to observe department procedures. She started studying piano as a six-year-old and now serves as church pianist.

Her parents are Yiwen Duan and Hang Yuan. Her brother, 22-year-old Kevin Duan, was Bob Jones salutatorian in 2016. Kevin’s achievement motivated Joy to work for similar honors.

Joy will attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham in their Early Medical School Acceptance Program or EMSAP. “I plan on majoring in immunology; my interest in this major has arisen largely due to COVID-19. Reading about immune responses to the coronavirus has fueled this interest,” she said.

Bob Jones had 440 graduating seniors for the 2019-2020 school year.

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