Education

Top of their class

AP

The 2015 valedictorians and salutatorians in Miami-Dade County aren’t typical teenagers.

For Nina Rodriguez, 18, co-salutatorian at Gulliver Preparatory Academy, getting her GPA to an impressive 5.7 didn’t come without challenges.

Her most difficult class was AP Biology junior year. “It was really challenging, and we had to write lots of lab reports and I remember staying up until about 3 a.m. typing them up,” Rodriguez said.

On top of losing sleep, Rodriguez sacrificed many nights out to study for her rigorous classes.

“Instead of going out with my friends some Saturdays, I’d have to stay in and study, mostly my junior year. But it was worth the sacrifices,” she said.

Rodriguez will attend Princeton University in the fall. But before she becomes a Tiger, she will celebrate her graduation this summer by going to Europe with friends.

For Victor Machado, 18, of Mater Academy, taking an online class and giving up extracurricular activities were just a few challenges he’d faced on his journey to valedictorian.

“I had to give up football. ... It was taking up a lot of time,” he said.

Machado dedicated time to study for his regular academic classes, as well as an online class paired with a government-based course. Although, he preferred the traditional classroom setting to interact with his peers, the online class gave him resources that he probably wouldn’t have been exposed to if not for the virtual classroom.

“Online classes give [you] a lot of resources, and whoever actually uses them will be as prepared, or even more prepared, than a regular student,” Machado said.

Machado earned a 7.20 GPA, and an associate in arts degree from Miami Dade College after completing dual enrollment courses, and is headed to Pomona College with a full scholarship to study math and computer science in the fall.

Both Rodriguez and Machado are examples of how hard work, dedication and sacrifices at early stages, such as high school, can pay off in the end.

For future and current high school students, completing assignments on time and dedicated studying can help a student achieve the title of valedictorian, salutatorian or summa cum laude.

“By senior year, there is nothing new to catch a student off guard,” Machado said. “It’s all about staying consistent.”

ALLISON ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Lawrence Gonzalez

GPA: N/A

College: New College of Florida

ARCHBISHOP COLEMAN CARROLL HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Sabrina Gato

GPA: 5.67

College: Florida International University

Salutatorian: Amanda Estevez

GPA: 5.43

College: Florida International University

ARCHBISHOP CURLEY NOTRE DAME 6 TO 12 PREPARATORY

Valedictorian: Daniel Briz

GPA: 5.13

College: University of Florida

Salutatorian: Ivan Brenes

GPA: 4.88

College: Florida International University

Salutatorian: Keyanna Francois

GPA: 4.81

College: Florida State University

BELEN JESUIT PREPARATORY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Alexander Vidal

GPA: 5.44

College: Yale University

Salutatorian: Jose Chan

GPA: 5.41

College: Georgia Institute of Technology

BRITO MIAMI

Valedictorian: Aramis Hidalgo

GPA: 4.32

College: Florida International University

Salutatorian: Liztiffany Couceiro

GPA: 4.12

College: University of Miami

CALUSA PREPARATORY

Valedictorian: Fabian Peña

GPA: 3.82

College: Eastern University

Salutatorian: Efrain Colon

GPA: 3.98

College: Manhattan College

CARROLLTON SCHOOL OF THE SACRED HEART

Valedictorian: Nicola Haubold

GPA: N/A

College: Yale University

Salutatorian: Sofia Carratala

GPA: N/A

College: Georgetown University

CHAMPAGNAT CATHOLIC SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Craig Contreras

GPA: 4.3

College: University of Miami

Salutatorian: Manuel de la Fuente

GPA: 4.3

College: Miami Dade College

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Jackson Martinez

GPA: 5.36

College: University of Miami

Valedictorian: Andrew de la Osa

GPA: 5.36

College: University of Florida

Salutatorian: Anthony Rios

GPA: 5.29

College: Vanderbilt University

DADE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Sophia Galvez

GPA: 4.36

College: University of Florida

Salutatorian: James Wong

GPA: 4.28

College: University of Central Florida

DIVINE SAVIOR ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Christian Rodriguez

GPA: 4.19

College: Cornell University

Salutatorian: Santiago Munoz

GPA: 4.13

College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

FLORIDA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Vanessa Marquez

GPA: 4.65

College: Florida State University

Salutatorian: Rafael Paz

GPA: 4.61

College: University of Miami

GULLIVER PREPARATORY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Demi Zhu

GPA: 5.9

College: Duke University

Salutatorian: Nina Rodriguez

GPA: 5.7

College: Princeton University

Salutatorian: Franco Zacharzewski

GPA: 5.7

College: Rhode Island School of Design

HEBREW ACADEMY (RASG)

Valedictorian: Ariela Stein

GPA: N/A

College: University of Pennsylvania

Salutatorian: Chad Masin

GPA: N/A

College: Emory University

IMMACULATA-LA SALLE HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Daniel Verdear

GPA: 5.33

College: University of Miami

Salutatorian: Mariana Troia

GPA: 5.30

College: Yale University

MATER ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Victor Machado

GPA: 7.20

College: Pomona College

Salutatorian: Carlos Eguiluz Rosas

GPA: 7.19

College: Wesleyan University

MIAMI COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: David Gonzalez

GPA: 4.97

College: Stanford University

Salutatorian: Shalini Chandar

GPA: 4.94

College: University of Chicago

MONSIGNOR EDWARD PACE HIGH

Summa Cum Laude:

Daniel Gonzalez

GPA: 5.49

College: Florida International University

Steven Yildirim

GPA: 5.46

College: University of Florida

Juana Diaz

GPA: 5.45

College: University of Florida

OUR LADY OF LOURDES ACADEMY

Valedictorian: Andrea Jimenez

GPA: 5.18

College: University of Miami

Salutatorian: Elizabeth Lleonart

GPA: 5.13

College: University of Miami

PALMER TRINITY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Allegra Hill

GPA: N/A

College: Bowdoin College

Salutatorian: Liang Wang

GPA: N/A

College: Johns Hopkins University

RANSOM EVERGLADES

Valedictorian: Julia Keyes

GPA: 11.67 (on a scale of 12.0)

College: University of Pennsylvania

Co-Salutatorian: Spencer Hamersmith

GPA: 11.5 (on a scale of 12.0)

College: Pomona College

Co-Salutatorian: Gabrielle Leon-Hampel

GPA: 11.5 (on a scale of 12.0)

College: University of Pennsylvania

SAINT BRENDAN HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Sabrina Smith

GPA: 5.22

College: University of Florida

Salutatorian: Katherine De Arazoza

GPA: 5.12

College: University of Florida

SCHECK HILLEL COMMUNITY SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Nicole Scheck

GPA: 5.17

College: Columbia University

Salutatorian: Salomon Serfati

GPA: 4.91

College: University of Pennsylvania

SOMERSET ACADEMY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Samantha Fuentes

GPA: 6.25

College: University of Florida

Salutatorian: Amy Neira

GPA: 6.12

College: Florida International University

WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Isabella Pestana

GPA: 5.27

College: California Institute of Technology

Salutatorian: Allison de Moya

GPA: 5.14

College: Davidson College

WESTWOOD CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Valedictorian: Emma Thomson

GPA: 4.36

College: Bob Jones University

Salutatorian: Camila Vizcarrondo

GPA: 4.31

College: University of Miami

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