Virginia Graziosi, DECA champ is Glen Cove High School valedictorian


Virginia Graziosi, Glen Cove High School’s 2024 valedictorian, has made waves with her impressive academic and extracurricular achievements, culminating in her acceptance to Purdue University’s prestigious Honors College, where she will take part in a pre-veterinary animal science program.

Graziosi has deep roots in the community. Her father, also a Glen Cove native, and her mother, who emigrated from Italy at age 8, have instilled in her a strong work ethic and a dedication to excellence. Virginia’s academic prowess is clear: She boasts a grade point average of 106.59.

Throughout her school years, she has been involved in a variety of activities. She has been dancing since age 3, starting at Mary Ann’s Dance Studio, in Glen Cove. For the past 11 years she has performed with Let’s Make Music and Dance, in Sea Cliff, and her repertoire includes company tap, ballet and company lyrical. She has also taken part in jazz dance and acrobatics, and student-taught “acro” before the coronavirus pandemic. Dance has been a constant in her life, providing a creative outlet and a way to relieve the stress of her rigorous academic schedule.

Graziosi has also been involved in sports, particularly tennis. She picked up the sport in seventh grade, inspired by her friend Theresa Melfi — valedictorian of Glen Cove High’s Class of 2022. Graziosi joined the middle school team and, two years ago, the varsity squad, initially playing singles and later transitioning to doubles. Tennis, she said, offered not only physical exercise but also valuable lessons in perseverance, strategy and teamwork.

“I like tennis because I’m in control of the point, and whatever the outcome was, it’s because of me,” she said of her time playing singles, adding, of doubles, “It was fun learning how to work with, like, your partner, and see how you can balance it out —how you can problem-solve with another person during the game.”

Graziosi’s interest in business and leadership led her to join DECA, an international network of school clubs that prepare students for business careers, as a freshman. She hopes to eventually own a veterinary practice.

This year she finished fourth in the New York State Hotel and Lodging Management competition, which involved a 100-question exam on mathematics and business law. She also received an award for excellence at the International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, California, this year, when she competed against 24,000 students. The event tested students’ ability to handle ethical dilemmas by acting out potential business scenarios with the competition’s judges.

Glen Cove High Principal Allen Hudson said that Graziosi was the first student to participate in the competition in his 19 years in the district, and her success in DECA is a testament to her hard work and strategic thinking.

She is also involved in numerous honor societies. She is president of the high school’s World Language Honor Society and co-president of its National English Honor Society, and is also a member of the math, social studies and national honor societies. She says she manages to balance her rigorous academics and all of her activities by being well-organized.

“During AP season I’ll use a calendar,” she said. “Two months before (exams) I said I was going to study every day. One day could be set for AP bio. It’s organization and working hard.”

Outside school, Graziosi volunteers at HorseAbility, in Garden City, a nonprofit that focuses on adaptive horseback riding for those with mental and physical disabilities. She often assists with equine physical or occupational therapy, focusing on relieving first-time riders’ anxiety. That experience has further fueled her passion for veterinary medicine, a field she has explored by shadowing veterinarians at various clinics.

“As I spent more time volunteering, I’ve noticed that as riders approach the mounting block, their faces light up with smiles,” she said. “Not only were these riders excited to learn how to work with horses, they felt safe in the hands of their side-walkers. HorseAbility showed me that the comfort animals bring to humans is no longer just my personal experience.”

This fall, Graziosi will attend Purdue University, where she plans to complete her undergraduate degree in three years, thanks to her accumulation of AP and dual-enrollment credits, and then go on to veterinary school.

“Virginia is a once-in-a-lifetime-type student,” Christine Farrell, Graziosi’s guidance counselor, said in a statement. “She exceeds every expectation you set for a student due to her academic achievement, unparalleled work ethic and genuinely kind personality. Virginia is in a league of her own.”