A former Belfast Area High School valedictorian has again been named top of her class, this time at the University of Maine.

University of Maine President Paul Ferguson recently announced the 2014 valedictorian is Sierra Ventura of Belfast, who was BAHS valedictorian in 2010. Ventura will receive a bachelor's degree in music education.

“UMaine has helped me shape my pursuits in the music education field,” Ventura said. “UMaine has also provided me the opportunity to connect with many veteran teachers and other professionals in my field throughout my undergraduate career, as well as give me tools to become a better private music teacher for my students.”

While Ventura says she is very proud of her achievement repeating valedictorian awards she said it was not her goal to be top of her class in college.

"Being valedictorian [in high school] was a long-term goal of mine since about the second grade, when I found out what it was," Ventura said with a laugh. "When I went off to college I though 'I'm done. I achieved my goal, I don't need to pressure myself.'"

However, Ventura said she earned a 4.0 GPA in her first semester and decided to see how long she could keep that up. Rather than pursuing the distinction of being top of her class again, Ventura said she was pursuing high marks for personal reasons.

"When I opened the mail [and found out she was named valedictorian at UMaine] I had to reread the letter a few times," Ventura said. "I wasn't expecting it. I had been going for good grades for myself. It was very shocking."

Ventura will spend the summer teaching music and working at the Maine Summer Youth Music Camp, after which she plans to pursue a graduate degree in music education at the University of Maine. Ventura said that she doesn't feel pressure to be named top of her class for a third time though.

"At this point I'm going to keep up my academics and we'll just see what happens," Ventura said.

Throughout her undergraduate career, she has been active in UMaine’s chapter of the National Association of Music Education, including two years as treasurer, and she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, according to a release from the University of Maine. Her leadership roles on campus include serving as assistant conductor of the University of Maine Singers and of Euphony, the Orono-based chamber choir, both in 2013–14. The previous year, Ventura was the assistant accompanist of Collegiate Chorale.

Ventura also was a member of other musical ensembles in the UMaine School of Performing Arts, including Opera Workshop, Concert Band and Athena Consort, and she worked on the technical and events crews. Since 2009, she has had her own business, S.J. Ventura Music Instruction, teaching 35 students in piano, voice, flute, clarinet and saxophone.

Ventura will receive her degree at UMaine’s 212th Commencement ceremonies in Harold Alfond Sports Arena May 10.

“Sierra… personifies the best of the University of Maine undergraduate experience in their academic excellence, community engagement, and dedication to research and scholarship,” President Ferguson stated. “We are proud of her achievements and leadership in the UMaine community.”