Rachael, QHS Class of 2017 Valedictorian

Game face is when you put all your fears aside or inside. It’s when you think of all the good ahead. It’s standing on stage. To your left is a group of people with whom you will forever be connected. Heck, most were here with you way back in kindergarten. In front of you are their family and friends. Yours, as well. Behind you sit the people in charge of the education you received.

Your teachers and mentors are on your right.

And you, Rachael, the valedictorian of the QHS Class of 2017, are standing here to make a speech.

It’s time for your game face.

Because, Rachael, dare we say it? You may one day cure cancer. No pressure, but considering you are thinking about pharmaceutical engineering because as you said,

“My dream job is to work in a lab and develop medicines. I really liked AP Chemistry. It made me realize I could spend the rest of my life working in a lab and benefit people’s lives further, rather than just providing conveniences. First, I think I’ll get my degree in biochemistry, though I’m not completely set on it. I have thought about biomedical engineering and chemical engineering.”

You are going to be incredibly busy in honors college at The University of Mississippi, but it helps that you will be living with your best friend, your sister. You two young ladies will do what you have been doing since the day you were born. Pushing, learning more.

Like you said about all those friends on your left tonight,

“It’s easier to push yourself when you have someone to compete with, if you’re grouped with a bunch of people like you. I am proud of our class. We have 36 graduating with honors and high honors. It’s like they said at the Women’s Club event, that’s the highest number they’ve had since they’ve been doing it. And why would you not take full advantage of a free public education? I just can’t wrap my head around it. A free high school diploma can get you higher wages in the work force. Why would you not take advantage of that? It’s free to us. We have to pay for the rest.”

But paying won’t be as difficult for you, Rachael, because you have been working hard for the scholarships you have received. With a QPA of 4.24, a GPA of 4.0, an ACT score of 28, and a work ethic developed by you with the help of your family, friends, teachers, Panther softball, student council, quiz bowl, Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, and the National Honor Society.

And you are ready for life.

Just remember how proud you have made the people here.

You, Panther, proud member of the Class of 2017, go and be you with all that means. Just leave us with that advice you gave.

“If you really want it, you have to work for it early. You can’t just not do something because it’s going to be a little hard. I’ve been through a lot with the challenges over the past two years. I’d do triple the amount of work all over again if that’s what it took to be valedictorian again.”

Photo courtesy of Karen Todd