Bridget Zahradnik, a lifelong East Norwich resident, with a weighted average of 112.09 is Oyster Bay High School’s salutatorian for 2022. She will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall.
“It has a beautiful campus and is considered to be an arboretum,” she said. “And it’s a smaller school which will be a good adjustment for me since I’ve been going to smaller schools here.”
Bridget plans to major in biomedical engineering, although she said she isn’t certain if she will go to medical school. Admitting she’s a “big science person” who loved taking biology and physic at OBHS, she likes the major she’s chose at Vanderbilt. Because she’ll be taking a variety of science classes she’ll be able to choose from several career options moving forward.
“I took as many AP classes here as I could. My favorite class was the research class,” she said. “I chose the aging parts of DNA and how it’s effected by climate change. I did the study but with supply chain issues couldn’t get the equipment in time.”
Bridget is hoping to continue her research at Vanderbilt. “I love nature and want to learn more about climate change, even if I don’t pursue it.”
An inquisitive person by nature, she said her favorite teacher at OBHS was Stephen Acquaro, who she had in seventh grade science and for her research class as a senior, because he encouraged students to ask questions. “He didn’t just prepare you for one test,” she explained. “He expanded our curiosity.”
One advantage of the research class, she said, is that students were required to learn how to work independently. She added that she feels prepared for the future after taking the class. When she is working she’ll know how to solve problems.
“Mr. Acquaro had a black hole day when we could ask any questions,” she said. “I always asked random questions which you could do with him. And he could answer almost every single question.”
Bridget is a student athlete, a member of the varsity volleyball team since 9th grade, and is a varsity lacrosse player too. But she is also talented musically, playing the piccolo and flute in the jazz band for the past four years.
Academic, she joined mathletes in her sophomore year. And Bridget is the National Honor Society president.
An accomplishment she is most proud of was when she made friendship bracelets during the coronavirus pandemic. She sold 300, giving her profits to People Loving People, an Oyster Bay food pantry.
Her most challenging class was AP Chemistry, she said, adding that she enjoyed it too. “When I took introduction to Chemistry it was interrupted because of Covid so I had to go to extra help because I didn’t have the background information when I took AP Chemistry,” she explained. “I put a lot of work into the AP class. What I found out is that there are still ways to succeed if you put in the extra work.”
Bridget said she’ll miss the football games, which she was always a part of, by making posters, and playing in the Pep Band. At homecoming, she always participated in the dance routines.
When asked what advice she had for younger students she didn’t pause. “Get involved outside the classroom,” she said. “You’ll meet so many people not in your basic classes. In the AP classes you see the same kids.”