For 18-year-old Autumn White, the news that she’s Sahuarita High School’s Valedictorian is still a little unreal.
“It feels good,” she said Monday. “Yeah, it definitely feels good for all the hard work to pay off. I still don’t know exactly how I feel.”
White is finishing her high school years with a 4.5 GPA, and said it takes a level of focus and dedication to achieve the academic milestone.
“The senioritis was rough and keeping motivated wasn't always super easy,” she said. “Somehow I pulled through and got it all finished.”
Outside of school, White said a lot of her time went to the National Honor Society, where she was president this year.
She also dedicated her time as a TA for one of her teachers and said she worked a lot at her after-school job.
Now, she’s putting her focus on the big valedictorian speech she'll deliver May 24.
“I've just been doing it a little at a time,” she said. “I think I have a draft that’s looking very good and I’m very happy with it. I don't really enjoy public speaking, so I’m a little nervous.”
For her, the friendships and people have made high school an unforgettable experience. She was especially thankful for teacher Alya Verdugo’s support.
“I think really this past year I had incredible teachers, specifically Mrs. Verdugo, who made my year very memorable,” she said. “The friendships I had this year… I think this is very bittersweet and the goodbyes are kind of hard, but I’m also excited to continue on and start this new chapter.”
White is headed to Grand Canyon University, where she will pursue a degree in nursing.
“I’m very excited about that and I’ve always been interested in nursing,” she said. “I’ve had four big surgeries in the past seven years and I had incredible nurses every time. That’s what inspired the dream.”
As White looks ahead to her future, her advice to new seniors is to keep going no matter how hard it might get.
“Just don't give up, even though that can definitely be tempting,” she said. “Just keep going and don't be too hard on yourself. Grades don't really matter too much."
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