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Salutatorian Julia Curd to pursue passions at Duke University


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Salutatorian Julia Curd is skeptical about claims of mountains in North Carolina, where she is heading next year to study dance and biology.

Niwot High salutatorian Julia Curd thrives on competition, whether in the classroom, on the stage, or at the keyboard, and having valedictorian Anton Lavrouk for a rival during her four years in Niwot's IB diploma programme provided plenty of motivation for success.

"I really enjoyed being able to take classes with the amazing students at Niwot," she said. "I think the fact that it was so competitive really helped me reach my best. I took pretty much every class with Anton, and we were really competitive and pushed each other hard."

Curd focused mostly on STEM subjects during her four years at Niwot, after discovering a passion for biology in 9th grade. Later, she expanded her interests to computers, and saw success in both state- and national-level competitions with FIRST robotics and Girls Go Cybersecurity, thanks to a little mentoring from Niwot computer science teacher Teresa Ewing.

"She's always been there for me and been an amazing teacher," Curd said. "I'm definitely going to be contacting her for years and years to come."

However, her initial brush with FIRST robotics came via a source a little closer to home.

"My parents were both engineers, and my dad actually joined the robotics team before I did," she said, referring to his volunteer work. "We went to the competition that year and it was so exciting to watch. And so I was hooked and started the next year."

When she's not in the classroom, Curd's main pursuit is decidedly less technical in nature, but every bit as demanding. Since age three, she has been in dance, and finds it challenging on a level that academics never has been.

"It's been kind of an amazing journey, because there's a lot of natural talent required in dance, and I didn't have a lot of that, and I worked for years and years and years," she said. "It was definitely a tough journey, but I think it's really grown my sense of perseverance and persistence. There's so many times I can think of where I was really hoping to get a part in the show and didn't get it, and that inspired me to work harder, instead of giving up."

Dance also inspired her IB CAS project, which she called "one of my favorite parts of high school."

"It fell into place when I started an adaptive dance program with my ballet studio. It was such a rewarding experience. Being able to work with kids who are just there to enjoy the dancing, and not worried about the competitive aspects or more difficult parts of it reminds me of why I have such a great passion for dance, and why I love to do it."

Curd has no plans to abandon either of her interests in college, which limited her post-secondary options, despite her impeccable academic credentials. She finally decided on Duke University in Durham, N.C., which has a stellar reputation in both dance and biology, her intended double-major. After college, she plans to go on to medical school and is considering a specialty in pediatric cancer.


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