There was a time when Emily Pitt Whitfield obsessed so much over schoolwork she conceded little time to much else.
Becoming the valedictorian of the East Wake School of Arts, Education and Global Studies was a must for Whitfield until about the start of her senior year.
She didn’t give up on that feat, and went on to achieve it with a GPA of 4.96, but it came under new terms.
“It just started to become not that big a deal to me, but up to that point I had done enough work to make it manageable for that to remain my goal,” Whitfield said. “Other things became more important to me than just school work. Getting to spend time with my friends became more important to me.”
Experiencing both ends of the spectrum, she said, has made her a more well-rounded person.
Whitfield, the daughter of Becky and Johnny Whitfield of Wendell, will keep a family tradition going when she starts college at N.C. State University in the fall, pursuing a major in animal science.
Her grandfather and father both graduated from N.C. State, where her older sister is currently enrolled.
Math is her favorite subject, but animal science has been on her mind since she was a child, so she went with that as a major for starters.
A lot of people know Whitfield as Pitt, while in other arenas she goes by Emily.
“I’m really hoping in college to transition to the double name and just be Emily Pitt, because I’m really tired of the all the confusion over what my name is,” she said.
Those in Warrior country likely know Whitfield as the two-year drum major for the East Wake Blue Spirit Marching Band. She’s also president of the school’s Rotary-affiliated Interact Club, and a two-year member and senior president of the National Honor Society.
All that action plus a part-time job after school has left little time for Whitfield to squeeze in time with friends and family, but she’s made it happen.
“It’s like school, work, school, sleep,” she said. “I always had to have a plan for how to get things done. If I was going to hang out with friends before homework it was, ‘This is what I’m going to do. This how long it’s going to take’ – just learning how to manage my time.”
Whitfield plans to remember her balanced approach as she begins a fresh slate of schoolwork in the fall.
“I wouldn’t have been able to call high school a success for me if I became the valedictorian and didn’t have any fun in high school,” she said.