“In 1st grade I struggled a lot,” Elise said. “I didn’t learn how to read until 2nd grade – I couldn’t read a chapter book. I knew I was smart, but I struggled in school.”
Elise and her family moved around a lot during her early years before settling in at Wylie when she was in the 5th grade. She said she learned a lot from a school in California, but she wasn’t taking her studies seriously.
“I didn’t really care,” she said. “Then I had someone insinuate that I wasn’t actually as smart as I thought I was. That really peeved me. Don’t tell me I can’t do something.”
Elise began working harder at her grades, but she never thought she would be valedictorian.
“It was never something that was on my mind until we got our rankings,” she said. “I was first, and I was first by a whole point. I was like, oh my goodness. That’s crazy. I just did my best, and I guess my best was pretty good.”
When she isn’t studying, Elise likes to be outside with her parents, Jeff & Amy Grimland, and her brother, Michael, a Wylie freshman.
“We camp a lot,” she said. “We are always outside. We dirt bike. I feel the most at peace and the most happy when I am outside.”
She said people are often surprised to learn that she likes to ride dirt bikes.
“You get to go fast, and it’s so fun,” she said. “My whole family rides. It’s been a great way for our family to bond. We all ride together.”
Elise also is treasurer of the National Honor Society and on the Student2Student Leadership Team. She plans to attend Texas A&M University next year and major in Zoology. She wants to be a veterinarian or a wildlife biologist.
She said she spent six summers participating in the Zoo Teens program at the Abilene Zoo.
“It’s definitely one of the reasons I’m studying zoology,” she said. “My favorite part was the wild bird rehabilitation program and watching animal checkups and procedures in the vet department.”
She said she chose Texas A&M because of its great animal science department and veterinarian school and because she was ready to be away from home.
“My parents are Red Raiders,” she said. “But I want to do my own thing and be my own person.”
By Candy Reagan