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When Darby Battle makes her valedictory address Tuesday night, it just won’t be her parents who are bursting with pride.
Her grandmother–“Nana”–may be the one applauding the loudest.
That’s because for a time, while everyone was waiting to see the 2014 class standings, Nana, a/k/a Cindy Battle, had a big dream for her granddaughter: she wanted her to follow in her father’s footsteps since he was also a valedictorian of Williston High School.
“It’s not something I really set out to do,” Darby said. “I’m competitive though and when I found out my parents were happy and my Nana was relieved.”
A lifelong Willistonian, Darby, the daughter of Todd and Cindy (yes, another one) Battle, was home-schooled through second grade.
For a time, she attended P.K. Yonge for both what the school offered in Advanced Placement classes and volleyball.
But when the school saw a rapid turnover in the volleyball coaching staff, Darby knew it was time to come back home.
Dually-enrolled at Santa Fe with almost enough credits to have an associate’s degree, Darby stayed busy commuting between Williston and Gainesville and playing on the high school soccer team.
AP Biology will stand out as her favorite class, primarily because of Ms. Mueller.
English literature disturbed her the most.
Darby said analyzing an author’s work to get inside the writer’s mind to determine why he wrote what he wrote is “pointless and irritating.”
“I had an English professor at Santa Fe who agreed with me,” she said, adding that sometimes a writer just wants to weave a good tale without any hidden meaning.
And while she may have found it troublesome, in no time she had conquered it.
“Our weaknesses become strengths,” she said.
“I was exposed to AP Government while at PK,” she said. “Politics and government do not interest me.”
Scholastic success has come to Darby due to her competitive nature, her ability to stay on task and above all else, her need for order and structure in her life.
Even before a bachelor’s degree is earned, Darby has already set a long-term goal to have a PhD before she is 28.
In the fall, she will attend Florida Atlantic University where she will study neuroscience.
She isn’t sure what path she’ll travel beyond the PhD because her interests are varied–and many.
“Research–synthesizing new drugs–is an option. Or I may go the surgical route. Brain surgery on infants fascinates me,” she said.
Darby recently ran a half marathon and also is a voracious reader.
“I read a lot of science fiction. I just read Maze Runner with my sister and I read the Divergent series,” she said.
Forget most movies. “My attention span is iffy,” she admitted,
The Battle family is close-knit, Darby said, and her little brother, Dustin, gives her unmeasured joy.
“His sense of humor is dead-on,” she said, “and I like being with him.”
Darby is eager for the next phase of her life to begin and looks forward to doing her own thing.
In 10 years, she said she will have that PhD, have a place of her own and have a sense of what direction she wants to continue.
“Marriage and children–they’re not a priority right now,” she said. “I want to take time to assess who I am.”
Self-described as quirky, a perfectionist and empathetic, Darby is articulate, warm and forthcoming.
But it’s a façade, she said.
“I’m terribly insecure about where I’m going,” she said. “I talk a big talk because I’m always second guessing myself.”