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Sierra High salutatorian heading to UC Berkeley
Sierra High School Salutatorian Michael Pan who graduated with a 4.15 grade point average is going to attend the University of California, Berkeley in the fall. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

In a sense, Michael Pan won’t be traveling very far when he makes the trek over the hill to start attending classes at the University of California in Berkeley in the fall.

But he’ll also be a world away – moving towards a research-oriented career in a biological field at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.  

It’s exactly what the Sierra High salutatorian – who graduated with a 4.15 grade point average – worked towards during his four years as a Timberwolf and is looking forward to as he heads into the summer and readies himself mentally for the challenging workload that lies ahead.

And being on his own is where Pan believes that he’ll thrive. He urges incoming seniors to work towards becoming less dependent on others and start preparing for a future where they can fend for themselves away from home.

“My advice is to be more independent. High school is a time for growing up – it isn’t long before you’re going to be on your own,” Pan said. “You can’t rely on other people or else you’ll end up failing at something later in life and you won’t know where to turn.”

When Pan starts his college career in the fall, however, he’ll do so undecided in terms of a major – knowing that he wants to do something in a biological field and that he wants to conduct research but isn’t sure which major he wants to pull the trigger on just yet.

He was active in Manteca Unified ROP health careers program during his senior year, and is a member of the Health Occupation Students of America – something that might play a part in his future schooling and ultimately, his career.

While he felt that all of the AP and honors classes that he took were on the same level, he said that he had the most fun in his team sports PE class. Pan also said that he takes pride in finishing second in an art contest sponsored by Kaiser Permanente for an anti-smoking billboard – ultimately progressing onto a finalist at both the state and national level.

The Stella Brockman Elementary graduate says he’s looking forward to getting to Berkeley.

“It’s a chance to get out there and pursue what it is that I want to do,” Pan said. “People there are open-minded and I think it’s a great place to go to school.”