Alex Fowler is valedictorian and Emily Chapa is salutatorian of Brownwood High School's Class of 2019, which will hold its graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday at the Brownwood Coliseum.
Fowler — the daughter of Drs. James and Lisa Fowler — is heading to the University of Texas to study medicine, while Chapa — the daughter of Luis and Gloria Chapa — is bound for Texas A&M to pursue a degree in microbiology.
“I've worked hard to get to this point but I've also been very blessed,” Fowler said of the valedictorian honor. “My family supports me and challenges me and the Lord has blessed me, and I'm just glad to be here.”
Of her salutatorian accolade, Chapa said, “It's an honor to be salutatorian of my class. I've worked really hard since I was a freshman, maybe even toward middle school. In middle school I always had a dream of being either first or second. I've been working my study habits and skills, talking to teachers and friends about how I can the best I can be. Ever since then I've always strived to be the best in our school. It feels nice knowing I accomplished that.”
As for her decision to attend UT and her hopes of becoming a doctor, Fowler said, “I plan on studying chemistry and then go to medical school after college to follow in my parents' footsteps. My brother's there right now. I'm doing a freshman research initiative at UT so that will help me get into medical school and prepare for the coursework.”
Regarding attending A&M and her passion for microbiology, Chapa said, “What I want to do in life, I want to work with Crisper Casnine which is basically a genetic editing tool. What it does is implements a protein that protects the skin against viruses that we've already come in contact with and stops it from going back into our bodies and getting us sick again, so you can't get the same strain of cold twice. Scientists are trying to us that bacteria protein and implement that into cancer treatment so they can't get the same cancer twice.
“I've always liked science, it always interested me and so did math. They're both my strong points, and it's something I don't mind studying at all. It's something that I actually like doing, even in my free time. Right now I'm reading a genetic book and it's not even school-based. A couple of years ago I learned about Crisper Casnine and I thought it was so cool. It's a new field and it's going to be revolutionary in the future. And I think right now to jump into it is something incredible and I can be a pioneer and help.”
Fowler was involved in multiple extracurricular activities during her high school years.
“I've run track all four years and that's definitely my favorite sport,” Fowler said. “I did play volleyball and I ran cross country, but that was only for a few years. I was involved in A Cappella choir for two years, and I've also been in NHS and HOSA, but track is my main thing.”
Chapa was also busy outside the classroom as well.
“I was involved in Key Club, Student Council, National Honor Society, HOSA and FFA,” Chapa said. “HOSA and FFA are my two main extracurriculars. I do speaking events in both HOSA and FFA and I also do leadership events. I've been president of both organizations. Cross Timbers District Vice President of FFA, Area 5 Vice President for HOSA and I tried out for state officer with HOSA. I still really like those and I'm going to do both of those when I get to college.”
As for what they will miss most about their days at Brownwood High, Fowler said, “I'm definitely going to miss being involved in sports. I'll exercise in college but it's not going to be the same. And I'll miss seeing my sister everyday.”
Chapa added, “I will miss my friends. My favorite part of every day was going to see my friends. Whenever I thought about school I didn't think about school work, I thought about friends first.”
Looking ahead 10 years, Fowler said, “I will probably be in residency if I become a doctor, which I hope I will. I'll be working a lot, hopefully I'll be married. I'm not sure where I'll be living, maybe Austin or San Antonio.”
For Chapa, “I see myself probably working in clinical trials, getting an entry field job for the cancer treatments I want to do. I'll probably work in the Houston or Dallas area, or whichever area is most heavily involved in Crisper cancer treatment.”
Fowler and Chapa both expressed thanks to their families and teachers for their support along the way.
“My parents have challenged me and supported me, and my brother's been a good example of a student,” Fowler said. “Mrs. (Krista) Bronniman definitely pushed me to be a better student and a better person. My coaches have challenged me in athletics. I want to thank The Lord for sure because I wouldn't be here without Him. I'm very grateful for everything I've been blessed with.
Chapa added, “I want to thank my mom, she was basically my inspiration. She's so nice and smart and she inspires me with her story. Whenever she was little she used to live in Mexico and she moved to America when she was 10 years old and didn't know any English at all. At the age of 16 she graduated high school in the top 10 percent. If she can overcome that adversity I can overcome anything that comes my way.”