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Emerson Chase in top 3 percent of Oregon Connections Academy's 2018 graduating class

Emerson Chase is not your average graduate. The Beavercreek 18-year-old had to miss his school's commencement ceremony because he was competing at the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships, and he's already participated in a prestigious conference to kick off his college major and future career in medical science.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Chase Emerson and his crew in the Rose City Rowing Club placed sixth out of 24 competitors at the national competition in Gold River, California.Due to his high GPA, Chase was in the top 3 percent of Oregon Connections Academy's (ORCA) 10th graduating class and was selected to attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders June 25-27 at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Oregon Connections Academy, a statewide online public charter school, held an in-person graduation ceremony June 9 in Salem. The ORCA Class of 2018 includes just over 370 graduates.

"My recent experience at Future Physicians of America Congress was a tremendous opportunity," Chase said. "I was able to meet other delegates from across the United States and highly decorated professionals in their medical and science fields."

The congress is sponsored by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists and the academy calls it the "annual gathering of America's high-achieving high school students aspiring to become the next generation of medical leaders."

Oregon State University signed Chase earlier this year. He will have almost a full-ride scholarship and will be on the OSU men's rowing team. By attending OSU, Chase hopes to explore career opportunities in medical science fields, while majoring in zoology and biology.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Chase Emerson earned 12 credits through Oregon Connections Academys dual-credit program, which he is transferring to OSU."I selected my major field of study given my love for animals and exposure to them my whole life," Chase said. "I live on a small farm that is home to horses, ducks, chickens, dogs and cats. Caring for our animals daily has given me the opportunity to handle and learn proper methods in raising animals large and small. Medicine and the areas of curing diseases has always piqued my interest to learn more."

The Congress of Future Medical Leaders, which included Nobel Prize winners in medicine and other prominent figures, was a great starting point for Chase.

"We totaled nearly 10,000 strong to listen, greet and get to know these guest speakers on a personal level," Chase said. "The speakers were inspirational and conveyed their personal stories, inspiring us to look at things differently. They shared important parts of their own lives that drove their determination and motivation to become the best in their profession on a global scale. 

"It's been a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has broadened my outlook on the fields of medicine and sciences. I look forward to taking these learnings on to college at Oregon State University."

Several hundred families, friends and classmates turned out for Oregon Connections Academy's commencement at the state fairgrounds in Salem. Chase missed the graduation event because he was in the water competing for the Rose City Rowing Club (RCRC) on his third trip to the national competition.

Attending the College of Future Medical Leaders allowed Chase to pick up an additional college credit.

Chase has rowed with the Rose City Rowing Club the past six years, volunteered for the club's rowing outreach programs, and this past spring he received the 2018 Leadership Award, making him the most decorated athlete in RCRC history. 

"Having the opportunity to organize my own schedule of lessons and pacing myself allowed me to gain a lot of self-confidence, which strengthened my abilities to mature and have a positive outlook on my future," Chase said. "ORCA has no limits on education — you can excel to whatever level you strive for and have that support all along the way."

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