PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- When Brittany Abel goes on to Cornell University in August, she will have to leave behind her two dogs, a leopard gecko and a corn snake along with her two parents.
"I have as many pets as my parents will let me," said Abel, who plans to major in animal science and perhaps become a veterinarian.
Abel, 18, recently graduated from Port Chester High as valedictorian with a GPA percentage of 101. Despite being recognized for her academic achievements, Abel made a point in her speech to her graduating class about imagination's importance over knowledge.
"Never let anyone ever stifle your creativity," she said before her classmates on graduation day.
Abel certainly expressed her creativity as well. She played trumpet in the school's marching band and active in musical theater, playing the lead role in the 2010 production of "Sweet Charity." Although she loves music and theater, her real passion is for animals.
"I've always had a fondness for animals my whole life," she said.
While Abel will spend a lot of time learning about animals, she said there is much she has learned about from the people around her.
Abel remarked on how Port Chester's diversity of people has given her a broader perspective of the world, which she expects will be invaluable to her in Cornell's diverse college environment.
For another few weeks she will enjoy the summer in her hometown before leaving for school. Her parents are excited for her, though they said they're still not too keen on taking care of the snake.
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