He’s a viola-playing, karate-kicking twin brother who wants to explore the connections between electrical engineering and neuroscience.
Meet this year’s Santa Monica High School valedictorian.
Christopher Ferrarin, who will continue his education at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, was honored as the top student in the graduating Class of 2016 during commencement ceremonies earlier this month.
“It wasn’t explicitly a goal and I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s nice to be recognized for the work I’ve put into academics,” he said. “I was more proud that there were 23 other candidates who were just as deserving. It shows how strong Samohi is as a whole.”
The school’s cohort of 24 valedictorian candidates, all of whom had perfect 4.0 grade-point averages, also included Ferrarin’s twin sister, Gianna. And Ferrarin’s designation deepened another family tradition of scholastic prominence, as his father was valedictorian of Crawford High School in San Diego in 1973.
Accepted at several larger research institutions like Northwestern and Johns Hopkins, Ferrarin sees Harvey Mudd as a place where it’ll be easier to develop relationships with professors. He also felt encouraged to explore STEM subjects and liberal arts disciplines simultaneously.
“At Harvey Mudd there was this community of collaboration,” he said, “and I prefer that to some more competitive schools.”
Harvey Mudd is still plenty prestigious, though, as evidenced by the fact that valedictorians and salutatorians made up 27 percent of its freshman class last year. The college has roughly 800 total undergraduate students.
Ferrarin plans to study electrical engineering, a field that combines his interests in math and science. Its connections to neuroscience pique his curiosity.
“The brain is pretty similar to a computer, and I think if you analyze it in that context you can discover some new innovations about it,” he said. “Computers are getting more and more powerful.”
Ferrarin, who attended Roosevelt Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools before starting at Samohi, credited Advanced Placement physics teacher Rebecca Yaghoubian with nurturing his love of science and its real-world applications.
But Ferrarin made sure to branch out. He took 12 different AP classes during high school while climbing the ranks to principal violist in the symphony and chamber orchestras.
“It was a lot of time, long rehearsals and a lot of gigs on weekends and after school,” said Ferrarin, who was also a member of the Delians honor society and treasurer of the campus Habitat for Humanity club while making time for karate lessons after school. “But it gave me a sense of community and belonging.”
College will probably be odd at first for Ferrarin and his twin sister, who is heading to the University of Pennsylvania to study cognitive science. She played saxophone in the Samohi band and overlapped with Ferrarin throughout high school.
“It was unique having someone who’s your age taking some of the same classes and living in the same home,” Ferrarin said. “We’re going to be separated for the first time.”