The top 10 seniors of the Dowagiac Union High School class of 2014 have been announced. FRONT ROW (LEFT TO RIGHT): Mackenzie Ruff, Morgan Adams, Nicole Irwin and Gabrielle Leonard. BACK ROW (LEFT TO RIGHT): Thomas Preston, Brad Bundy Jr., Troy Lynn-Lee, Lucas Petro, Blake Bundy and Austin Broda. (Submitted photo)
The top 10 seniors of the Dowagiac Union High School class of 2014 have been announced. FRONT ROW (LEFT TO RIGHT): Mackenzie Ruff, Morgan Adams, Nicole Irwin and Gabrielle Leonard. BACK ROW (LEFT TO RIGHT): Thomas Preston, Brad Bundy Jr., Troy Lynn-Lee, Lucas Petro, Blake Bundy and Austin Broda. (Submitted photo)

Archived Story

Dowagiac Union High School announces top 10

Published 8:00am Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Becoming the top Chieftain of his graduating class wasn’t one of Austin Broda’s goals when he first stepped through the doors of Dowagiac Union High School four
years ago.

However, after earning straight A’s his freshman year, Broda decided to give it a shot anyway.

“If I’m going to do something, I might as well do it to the best of my ability,” Broda said he thought at the time.

Today, the Dowagiac senior can add “valedictorian” to his ever-growing list of accomplishments. Dowagiac Union High School announced the top 10 students in its 2014 graduating class last week, with Broda leading the pack.

The student athlete and musician attributes his accomplish to a single factor: determination.

“I’m a hard worker in every aspect of my life,” Broda said. “Commitment is a very important thing to me.”

Broda had this trait hammered into him from an early age by his mother, Lisa, who encouraged him to keep going even when things got tough, he said.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better parent,” Broda said. “She never pushed me into doing things, but she never let me quit once I started, either.”

The elder Broda was, naturally, elated to hear of her son’s accomplishment, he said. She has supported him throughout his life as his “number one fan,” Broda said.

In addition to his academic achievements, Broda is an accomplished student athlete, serving as the captain of the varsity baseball team, which he has been on for three years. He was also the starting quarterback for the varsity football team in the fall, earning an All-Conference honorable mention.

Broda is also a part of the high school band, where he is first chair of the French horn section. He is also part of the National Honor Society and president of the school’s Rotary Interact club.

After graduation, Broda plans on attending the University of Michigan to study mechanical engineering, he said.

“I’ve always been interested in the way things work,” he said. “I like to pull things apart, to learn how they function.”

For Broda, one of the enduring lessons he’ll take away from his formative years at Dowagiac Union High School will be one taught to him by his football coach, Mike Stanger: that you get out of something what you put into it.

“I’m glad I can represent my school as valedictorian this year,” Broda said. “I want to prove to myself, and to others, that you can be all things that you want to be. You don’t have to limit yourself to just football, or just school, or just band. You can do it all.”

Joining Broda in this year’s top 10 include:

• Salutatorian: Morgan Adams, daughter of Beth and Dan Daly and John and Erin Adams

• No. 3: Blake Bundy, son of Brad and Stephanie Bundy

• No 4: Brad Bundy Jr., son of Brad and Stephanie Bundy

• No 5: Lucas Petro, son of Todd and Ellen Petro

• No. 6: Gabrielle Leonard, daughter of William and Nancy Leonard

• No. 7: Mackenzie Ruff, daughter of Tim and Jessica Ruff

• No. 8: Thomas Preston, son of Gray and Linda Preston

• No. 9: Troy Lynn-Lee, son of Rebecca Lynn

• No. 10: Nicole Irwin, daughter of Don and Tracie Irwin

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