Salem High School's 2012 valedictorian is Billy Nguyen and its salutatorian is Stephanie Brassard. Nguyen plans to attend the University of Georgia, while Brassard will go to Kennesaw State University in the fall. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
CONYERS -- Earning the top two spots for Salem High School's graduating class of 2012 was no surprise.
Both students said the top 10 students in the class are usually known each year by attending the Superintendent's Awards, which begin in 10th grade.
Valedictorian Billy Nguyen and salutatorian Stephanie Brassard said they have worked hard, taking Advanced Placement courses and studying a lot.
"There's not really any competition," Nguyen said.
"We just want to get our diplomas," Brassard added.
Seventeen-year-old Nguyen said he never really cared about the ranking.
"As long as I did well and did how I wanted to do," said Nguyen, son of Diep Do and Tiet Nguyen of Conyers. "I love learning, especially when it's something I'm interested in."
He said he especially enjoys science and math, so he plans to study biochemistry or molecular biology at the University of Georgia.
"At a young age, I became interested in health care," he said. "It's always fascinated me, and I love people, so it all fell together."
He hopes to one day be an emergency physician, something he's learned a little about this year when he was an apprentice in the emergency department at Rockdale Medical Center.
"I've always set my own goals and my parents also push me," he said.
When he wasn't busy working in the ER, he took about 10 AP classes while in high school.
Nguyen received the Work-Based Learning Student of the Year award for his time at RMC; he also received a Rockdale Career Academy scholarship. He's president of the National Honor Society and the science club, vice president of the Interact Club and a member of the Beta Club and the academic team. He also played soccer and ran cross country.
Eighteen-year-old Brassard also wanted to stay close to home, so she will attend Kennesaw State University this fall.
"I want to start small and go bigger," she said, adding that she plans to eventually enroll at the University of Alabama or the University of Georgia.
Brassard, daughter of Kim Brassard, wants to become a psychiatrist.
"I like to see inside the mind and talking to people and seeing how I can help them," she said.
While at Salem, she's taken eight AP classes and one year of Dual Enrollment classes through Georgia Perimeter College.
"I study a lot, a lot, a lot," she said, adding that she and her friends often call each other or study together.
When she isn't busy in class, she's played softball, soccer and basketball, and she was part of the National Honor Society and the Future Educators of America and was vice president of the Student Government Association.
She said she will especially miss being in a school where her mom teaches, but she is looking forward to being more independent and the newness of her next phase of life.
"I've been thinking about my future for so long, and it's finally here," she said.