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Liberty Lake teen Grant Hill is valedictorian of STEM Academy’s first graduating class

UPDATED: Thu., June 6, 2019

Grant Hill of Liberty Lake is serious about academics and giving to the community through volunteer work. Hill is set to graduate valedictorian in the first graduating class at STEM Academy in Spokane Valley. (Courtesy / Courtesy)
Grant Hill of Liberty Lake is serious about academics and giving to the community through volunteer work. Hill is set to graduate valedictorian in the first graduating class at STEM Academy in Spokane Valley. (Courtesy / Courtesy)

STEM Academy senior Grant Hill has his sights firmly set on his future, with everything from his status as his class’s valedictorian to his volunteer work leading toward his goal of becoming a doctor.

“Grant consistently displays academic excellence,” said his principal, Camille Nielsen. “His classwork is top-notch.”

Hill is part of the first class to graduate from the STEM Academy, which started as part of Spokane Valley Tech four years ago and became an accredited school in its own right last year. Hill has been there since the beginning.

“We were the pilot group,” he said. “They admitted 25 of us.”

Hill was attracted to the STEM Academy both because one of its focuses was on medicine and because of the small class sizes, to which he was accustomed at the Summit School in the Central Valley School District. “I went to a smaller middle school,” he said. “I really liked that small community feel.”

While at the STEM Academy he used Project Lead the Way, a STEM curriculum. He took increasingly advanced courses in biomedical science. “The curriculum is really cool because it builds on itself,” he said. “It’s also really project-based.”

This school year he took emergency medical technician training and will take a test later this month to receive his EMT certification. He said he particularly enjoyed the ambulance ride-alongs he got to do as part of the program, since he plans to specialize in emergency room medicine. “I’m really a hands-on person,” he said.

Even his volunteer work is tied to his future career. In 2017 a friend told him about volunteering at MultiCare Valley Hospital and he applied. He worked in labor and delivery and in the cafeteria, putting in 140 hours in a year before being offered a paying job. He now works in the kitchen, where he takes food orders from patients and prepares their trays.

“Getting to work back there has given me a taste of that patient experience,” he said.

Hill grew up in Liberty Lake with an older sister who is also going into medicine, but Hill said there aren’t any doctors in the family. “My family has gone through some medical issues in the past, so I guess that’s what fueled it,” he said of their shared interest in medicine.

For the past two years Hill has participated in Health Occupations Students of America competitions. This year he took second place at the state competition in the EMT and medical terminology categories. He will compete in the medical terminology category at the national competition later this month.

Hill said competitors are only allowed to compete in one category and he picked medical terminology because he enjoys learning the language. “Memorizing that is fun for me,” he said.

Never one to slack off, Hill also has served as ASB president for the past two years, and this year was named the Pace Student of the Year at his school, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. “I take my academics pretty seriously,” he said.

Hill has volunteered at several STEM Camps at Spokane Valley Tech, said Nielsen in an email. “While his academic success, volunteer hours and leadership roles are impressive, the most extraordinary aspects of Grant are his personal characteristics,” she said. “Grant consistently demonstrates respect, integrity, generosity, responsibility and kindness.”

Hill will study pre-med at Whitworth University in the fall. Even though he’s from Liberty Lake, he plans to live on campus.

“I’m really excited to live on campus and be a part of the community and experience dorm life,” he said.

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