As the valedictorian for the Cheshire High School Class of 2021, Ryan Shan had the opportunity to say goodbye to his classmates at graduation last year. While he has since moved on to college, Shan is happy to still see many friends in a new setting.
Shan recently finished his freshman year studying at the University of Connecticut.
“It isn’t too bad of a drive from home,” said Shan. “It is nice to see a lot of people from Cheshire up there because it isn’t a whole new community. I think that Cheshire High School prepared me to go up to college.”
Shan kept a family tradition alive, following in the footsteps of his father and older brother to UConn. Like his dad, he has chosen to major in pharmacy.
“It is a mix of going into the medical field and helping people. Those are two things that I’m interested in,” explained Shan.
While he wants to forge his own pharmacy path, Shan is glad that his father can serve as a mentor in the field.
“He is working in pharmaceuticals, but he has also worked in retail, hospitals, and other settings,” said Shan.
Because he had an extra amount of high school credits, Shan was able to skip a level in the UConn pre-pharmacy curriculum. This fall, he plans to start a two-year program toward earning a Bachelor’s Degree.
“The beginning of freshman year was about a lot of adapting,” reflected Shan. “I got out of my comfort zone more because college allows you to try new things.”
As the world has started moving away from the pandemic, Shan feels that school has gotten easier. He took two weeks of virtual classes, but the rest of his courses were held in person.
“It has been a challenge wearing masks. For the majority of the year, masking was mandatory, but then it became optional,” recalled Shan. “It is good to see smiling faces again. It is also easier to communicate with people on a personal level.”
He really enjoyed taking classes in anatomy and organic chemistry at UConn.
“For anatomy, it is learning about the human body, which is something we use every day. It is was nice learning about pathology and the different sicknesses,” explained Shan. “I also like the challenges that chemistry brings for me to understand. I always strive to be the best version of myself.”
Shan felt that being a high school valedictorian gave him confidence going to college.
“At its core, it was an accomplishment for me,” reflected Shan. “There are a bunch of valedictorians up at college, so it keeps my mind open to how good people can be (in the classroom).”
Along with his work at school, Shan is enjoying a new summer job at UConn Health in Farmington. As a student technician, he is working with pharmacists to deliver medicine and fill out orders.
“I feel that it is a little more interesting than doing retail,” said Shan. “I would recommend it (this work) to people who want to go into pharmacy.”
He hasn’t decided if he wants to attend medical school after graduation.
“I’d like to go into pharmaceuticals because those are more business oriented,” Shan said.
Shan has returned to his hometown for the summer. He has set about relearning how to play the piano as one of his upcoming goals.
“The (Cheshire) community has been really good to me, especially from an educational setting,” stated Shan. “It is a good environment to grow up in.”
Although he has graduated from CHS, Shan is happy to be part of a unique valedictorian tradition. In the last four years, Yasin Tarabar (2019), Shan (2021), and Tyler Tan (2022) earned the honor as boys’ tennis players.
“I got to speak with the boys’ tennis coach (Nan Cunningham) about it. She is really proud,” said Shan. “It is like being in a small club. It is funny in that way.”