Westerly’s top students are aiming high with further studies at same school – Boston University

Westerly’s top students are aiming high with further studies at same school – Boston University

WESTERLY — He wants to be the youngest person to win a best director Oscar. She wants to work on spacecraft for SpaceX or NASA. 

And Westerly High School’s top students, valedictorian Richard Boylan and salutatorian Julianna Hill, are both heading to Boston University this fall as undergraduates. 

It was coincidence that both ended up there. 

Boylan, 18, is majoring in film studies, while Hill, who turns 18 next month, will concentrate on a dual degree program in mechanical engineering and physics. 

“I like Boston a lot,” Boylan said. “They have a really good film program.”

What drew them to those fields?

Boylan has always loved movies, and this year he’s seen 140 films. 

His favorite directors are Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino. His favorite film is the classic “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” he said. 

 Last year he realized he wanted to direct. 

“It’s been good, I’ve worked on a lot of short films,” he said. His senior project was a short film titled “Welcome to Wonderland,” which is on YouTube, as well as “Choices 1,” an orientation video for eighth grade.

He’s taken film classes at Westerly High School, and also plans to do internships in the city. 

“There’s a renaissance for communications now, so it’s a good time to start filming movies,” he said. 

Hill said she was drawn to colleges in Massachusetts because it’s far, but not too far, from home. 

“And I really like Boston, even though I’m not a big city person,” she said. 

Hill likes the idea of being able to create new things and improve on existing work, and said she feels she’d be able to do both as an engineer. 

“I took AP physics this year. It was really the first physics course I’ve taken and I loved it. It pushed me towards mechanical engineering as opposed to electrical or chemical engineering,” she said. 

Her ultimate goal, she said, wants to head into aerospace and be part of a design team either with SpaceX or NASA. 

“Something with spaceships, essentially,” she said. “I like the idea of being able to design spacecraft to be as aerodynamic as possible, to be able to go faster.”

Both will be working this summer — Boylan at Sam’s Snack bar and Two Little Fish and Hill at McDonald’s, where she will be promoted to manager at the end of the month.

Boylan is co-captain of the math team as well as president of the Interact Club, which works with the local Rotary Club on special projects. He also runs indoor and outdoor track.

Hill has been in marching band since eighth grade and was a drum major her junior and senior years. She’s been in chorus, jazz band and concert band and, like Boylan, is a math team co-captain.

The two were still polishing their graduation speeches Wednesday. 

Boylan said he plans to focus on the class of 2018’s independent streak. 

“We get our stuff done, in the end, but have individual paths,” he said.  



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