Pierson Valedictorian Leigh Hatfield on Her Desire for Balance

Valedictorian Leigh Hatfield

Leigh Hatfield, a quirky, adventurous student, has certainly had her plate full during her time at Pierson. The All-County Scholar Athlete played varsity volleyball and softball, was in the National Honors Society and committed herself to volunteer efforts with local non-profits based in Sag Harbor.

She also maintained a commitment to academia, leaving the Pierson senior with a weighted grade point average of 104.97, and the opportunity to represent her class as valedictorian at Saturday’s commencement. She will attend the University of Virginia beginning in August.

Hatfield has been announced as a UVA Echols Scholar. She is among a select group of students who will be offered academic freedom, creative opportunity, community and attention that with heavily shape her academic career. “I want to be able to explore and hone in on what I’m really passionate about,” she says. “I’m just really excited to learn and be a part of a diverse community.”

Throughout her academic career, Hatfield has been able to master the nearly impossible art of balancing and intertwining her passions in the arts and sciences. “Balancing and integrating my two passions, I believe, has made me a better student. Particularly in the IB diploma, where one of the main concepts is learning through a multidisciplinary perspective, I can recognize that every subject is intertwined with another. My two passions have also made me a better person, since I have found things that I am truly excited and determined to learn about.”

Hatfield speaks with friends prior to the Pierson High School graduation ceremonies (Photo by Gordon M. Grant)

Admittedly, Hatfield’s attraction to the world of medicine was not immediate. “I was introduced to the medical world when my father started training to become an EMT about three or four years ago,” she says. “I always loved hearing about his great saves or interesting calls. I have also always loved puzzles, which has drawn me to diagnostics. Thus, it wasn’t as much of an ‘ah-ha’ moment as it was me slowly realizing that medicine was the perfect path for me; a science field with puzzles that requires a degree of creativity.”

This year, Hatfield attended The Global Youth Summit (GYS) on the Future of Medicine, a program for upperclassman interested in medicine. They’re given the opportunity to learn about the different fields of medicine through experiential learning and lecturers.

“Attending the Global Youth Summit on the Future of Medicine was an incredible experience that showed me how large the world of medicine really is. We got to here amazing speakers from many different medical specialties, such as the engineering side, the business side, Doctors without Borders, and the clinical fields. Everything I heard and saw interested me, and I realized there was a field for everyone.”

She also participated in Harvard Medical School’s HMX online classes. Courses include physiology, genetics, pharmacology and biochemistry. “It seemed like the perfect way to further my interest and start my education in medicine,” she said. “It was a great opportunity, particularly because Sag Harbor is a small town with few opportunities to learn about something like medicine.”

Taking a large inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci, a scientist and artist like herself, Hatfield hopes to be able to continue pursing both of her passions throughout her college career. Her intention is to major in biochemistry and minor in art history/studio art.