Julia Lovelace and Shruti Patel are the valedictorian and salutatorian of Wylie’s Class of 2018, but the margin between the two was extremely close, which is only fitting since the girls are very close friends.
“Up until the end of the fifth six weeks, we were tied up to the 12th decimal place,” Julia said. “They weren’t sure if they were going to end up having a tie. If we could have both come out on top, that would have been so cool.”
“It’s never happened before,” Shruti said.
As it turned out, Julia inched ahead in the fifth six weeks to claim valedictorian, which was no surprise to Shruti, who said she was very happy for her good friend.
“It’s Julia,” Shruti said. “We are really good friends outside of school. I’ve always seen Julia work so hard. She puts 110 percent into everything.”
Both Julia and Shruti have attended Wylie since kindergarten, but it wasn’t until 4th grade, when they were on the same Destination Imagination team, that they became close friends. They shared DI together for four years.
“We got really close through that,” Julia said. “We are both interested in different things now, but we still have a really close friendship. It’s cool that we get to experience this together.”
Both of the girls are student athletes, but Julia is an all-district basketball player, while Shruti is on the state champion tennis team. However, the girls have plenty of other things in common – both are members of the National Honor Society, the Pals Program and the Student Council. Both volunteer with the Philharmonic Belles and Beaus program, among other things.
Julia is the daughter of Paul and Teri Lovelace, and the honor of being valedictorian is extra special to her family because her mother was Wylie’s valedictorian exactly 30 years ago.
Julia said from an early age, she thought about trying to earn the honor.
“Even in Junior High, I was ‘OK let’s focus in,’ ” she said. “Through high school, I knew I had a chance. I thought it would be cool to follow in my mom’s footsteps.”
Julia is also hoping to follow in her mom’s career path – dentistry. She is going to major in biomedical sciences at Texas A&M.
“I love the school, and my brother goes there,” Julia said. “I couldn’t picture myself not being an Aggie. I want to go to medical school or dental school. My family is full of dentists.”
Julia’s brother Matt is a 2015 Wylie grad, and her sister Mary is a Wylie junior.
Shruti, is the daughter of Dr. Ashish and Archana Patel. She said she wasn’t really trying to be one of the top two students.
“I never really had that goal in mind,” she said. “I was like, I just want to go to school and learn. I worked really hard. It was a bonus, and I’m really happy it happened.”
Shruti is headed to Texas Tech where she will major in biology. She is one of only eight incoming Texas Tech students to win a guaranteed spot at the Texas Tech Medical School after she finishes her undergraduate work.
She has a lot of doctors in her family and hopes to follow that path.
“It’s just really interesting,” she said. “It’s exciting.”
She will be joining her sister Shree, a 2015 Wylie grad, at Texas Tech.
In addition to her school and volunteer activities, Shruti is trained in traditional Indian dances. Her parents came to the U.S. from India, and her mom wanted her to learn about their culture. She took her daughters to classes in the Metroplex.
“It’s been a huge part of my life since I was little,” Shruti said. “It’s really important to me. We were honored to be able to take the classes.”
Shruti is now qualified to teach the dances, and she has performed them locally on occasion.
“It was awesome to see other people enjoying a part of my culture,” she said.
Tennis has also been a big part of Shruti’s life, and she said juggling the demands of tennis with school was challenging.
“Tennis was really, really hard,” she said. “We usually play every Friday. That was really hard especially junior year. I was just super overwhelmed. It was stressful.”
Julia had the same problem with basketball.
“It was definitely difficult, especially when we had out of town games,” Julia said. “I just adjusted to it. When basketball ended that was a breath of fresh air.”
Ironically, Wylie’s top two students helped each other keep their grades up during those difficult times.
“It was nice to have someone else in the same boat, and we would study together,” Shruti said. “We feed off each other. We are just really close, and now we get to do this together.”