TWINSBURG -- The 2017 Twinsburg High School valedictorian is a self-proclaimed "science and math guy" who says he gets his craftiness from his grandparents.
But that doesn't mean that Andrew Yates, 18, of Darien Lane, who finished in the top spot of the 305-person 2017 class, is going to follow a career path because it may have been taken first by a family member.
"I would tell people to do what they actually want to do, rather than what their parents tell them is right for them," Yates said June 1.
The top spot in the class was a close academic race between Yates and Anishka Singh, who was salutatorian at the May 23 graduation ceremony at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall.
"Both are top quality students, and both have been awesome role models for our other seniors," said Twinsburg High School Principal Louise Teringo. "I wish them both the best. They’re friends, involved in the same programs at school and they are both outstanding students."
Yates will head to the Ohio State University in the fall to pursue "something in general mathematics." His father, Twinsburg Mayor Ted Yates, has a law degree, which often requires a background in the humanities.
"I'd like to go into engineering at Ohio State," Andrew Yates said. "I'm just not sure of the specific field yet. I'm looking at something in the sustainability field, related to the environment."
Yates ran cross country and track during his four years as a Tiger, and volunteered through the Twinsburg Interact Club (under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Twinsburg) with the youth "Snow Ball" at the Twinsburg Public Library and a dog walk at Liberty Park.
One Tiger memory, Yates noted, was the difficult time his cross country and track teams endured when distance Coach Sarah Kmet contracted cancer during Yates' senior year.
"I think it brought the team together -- we wore wristbands that season for her," Yates said. "While athletics in general offer a better social life, she taught us discipline and how to push ourselves."
While Yates says he operates on the more empirical side of the brain, an English teacher served as one of his most inspiring mentors during his time at Twinsurg High School.
"One teacher in particular, Mrs. Milano, my English teacher, helped shape my aspirations moving forward. We studied sustainability in her class," Yates said.
He added that his grandparents have served as role models outside the classroom.
"I get most of my hobbies from them," he said. "From gardening to crocheting, I get my craftiness from them."
Yates did not give a speech at the May 23 graduation ceremony, however he did offer some advice to his classmates moving forward.
"I'd also just say that friends really matter," Yates said. "They help you get through school, the tough times. Truly appreciate them."