Barrow valedictorian: “I was never meant to be here and I refused to accept that.”

Teachers, if you wonder why you do it — here’s the reason.

Listen to this moving speech by Paul Serrato, the 2015 Apalachee High School valedictorian. Congratulations to Paul, who will attend Stanford University, one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. (And one of the most difficult to gain admission.)

As Barrow Superintendent Chris McMichael said:

“This is a stellar example of why educators do what they do every day. It is about the students and the opportunity we can provide them for a better life through education, not the endless testing and data collection du jour, statistical autopsies of the last year’s scores or all the other onerous attempts we are currently forced to make in public education to try and quantify things that are at their root unquantifiable. Education and schooling boils down to one thing – people. It is the people in Paul’s life, his family and teachers as well as his own internal drive, that have guided and pushed this young man over the past 12 years to avail himself of the educational opportunities available to him.

Anyone who believes that the schools and teachers in our state and this great nation are not  providing the opportunities for our children to receive a strong education need to listen to Paul and perhaps reflect a bit on what actually matters. It is not about the test scores and statistical minutia. It is about the relationships and connections that are facilitated on day-to-day basis in our schools and classrooms that make this kind of impact on a person’s life and future.

While I was listening to Paul speak I could not have been prouder to be a public educator in this community and in this state.”

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

29 comments
anothercomment
anothercomment

I would like to give a hats off to the guidance counselor this young man had at his Barrow county school. That individual or the teachers who encouraged him to aim high and for Stanford need to be congratulated.

I am so saddened in Georgia as a person who moved to Georgia after being recruited as a best and brightest of my top engineering school "big Ten class" in the early eighties. From a program that was ranked #1 in the country at the time. I went to graduate school on full scholarship for academics. I was also a first in my family to receive a college degree the May earlier.. I have been flummoxed at the sheer ignorance of the public school counselor as to the greater opportunities for scholarships at endowed small private universities outside the South East. The earlier column Maureen did on the Hispanic "Dream" student who was the Valdictorian of an APS student who was ignorantly advised by the counselor to apply to UGA and GT, schools our ignorant politicians prohibit him from attending. I spent last summer assisting a South Cobb graduate, who graduated without being advised on the next step. Yet she had above a 3.0 GPA, and when we got her in the June ACT's she scored a 24, without any Prep.

At my daughters Cobb county High school, the IB school, was even at the school, but that did not stop the head counselor from sending completely lacking lists of scholarships. She would send lists of scholarships for African Americans and Hispanicans, I would e-mail her back and ask why is she not researching scholarships , for all the students. They would only bring in colleges that were third tier, and this was Cobbs IB school. Then you would see in Fulton County At Riverwood, also the IB school they had a seperate position for a woman who just helped with tracking down scholarships and applying for college.

anothercomment
anothercomment

I went to college with the current Gov. Of VA. And the Mayor of New Orleans; all I can say is if this kid was born in the U.S. He has as much if not more natural born charisma than both Terry and Mitch had at 18-21 when I met them. This kid has a lot of potential.

I sure hope he is the future of Democratic politics. He is what we need a natural born leader!

This was wonderful.

Lizeth566
Lizeth566

I never get tired of listening to Paul's speech. It's truly amazing as he is! Glad to have met him and worked with him in HoPe! He's definitely going to achieve greatness despite any obstacles he may come across. Go Paul! #HoPeFamily

Jonathan Peraza
Jonathan Peraza

I'm so proud of Paul! He's an amazing student that I've had the privilege of working with in the same non-profit organization, the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education (HoPe). He's truly an agent for change and a proud member of our community who works to uplift Hispanic/Latinx students and all students who have overcome obstacles to be the best that they can be. One of the best people I know. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lee_CPA2 @Caius @Jonathan Peraza 

There is no need for such groups, for white people are the majority racial/ethnic group in this country and thus comprise the majority of grant recipients. In addition, most general-based grants are non-exclusionary.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Surprised that many of the regulars are not complaining because of his status as an immigrant (legal or not).


Kudos to this young man, his family, his friends, and his teachers!

anothercomment
anothercomment

He is a future presidential candidate. He has the natural charisma. The ability to write such a on point uplifting speech. Every democratic presidential candidate should be trying to hire him now on his suburb speech writing skills!

Educatorforlife11
Educatorforlife11

@Wascatlady Agreed. However, for the record, he holds a status of a US Citizen because he was born in California, where he will now return to for college. Go Paul!! 

Astropig
Astropig

He's another living witness to the greatness of the greatest country on earth. His achievement could only happen in America. Good luck at Stanford,kid!

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

Stanford? That's unfortunate. All Stanford does is turn people into a-- holes. I've got a C-suite full of Stanford a-- holes, they're unbearable. They're surprisingly more arrogant than Harvard grads, and that's hard to accomplish.


Good for him though.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@DrGonzo 

I quite disagree.  (Perhaps you're thinking of Condoleeza Rice who used to be Academic Provost of Stanford before Bush tapped her.) One of my best friends got all of her degrees (BA, MA, and Ph.D.) from Stanford, on one of their scholarships.

Astropig
Astropig

@OriginalProf @DrGonzo


Condoleeza Rice an a-hole? Um, no. She's an accomplished former Secretary of State and a genuine American heroine.And she plays a piano like she invented the thing.

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

Stanford University is getting quite a young man. Congratulations and I look forward to the great things he will accomplish.

allamerican
allamerican

He is an amazing young man.   He overcame his upbringing when some cannot  even overcome the slavery of their ancestors 250 years ago.

DrGonzo
DrGonzo

@ErnestB @allamerican Please publish your name and address so we can validate your posts.  Otherwise, pound sand. I disagree with your comments but I don't call for you to be silenced, tyrant.

ErnestB
ErnestB

@allamerican


It would be nice to go to a system where real, validated names are used for posters.  We would probably see less comments like this one.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@ErnestB

Let's see, we just had a blog topic where a principal was disciplined for expressing an opinion that was contrary to the politically correct position.  

jettison
jettison

This young man is the real deal. Hats off to him!

everydayjoe
everydayjoe

Wow...and we've got a presidential election coming up in 18 months.  I'd vote for this guy now. 

H2O_Dawg
H2O_Dawg

Great stuff. That's a kid who will go far. He has his head on straight, has taken advantage of every opportunity put before him and makes no excuses. He's a shining example of what you can be when you are self-driven while also receiving support at school and at home. He's doing more with less, when the majority do less with more. Bravo, Paul! 

thenoticer
thenoticer

And this is why we have to make sure there are competent teachers to provide the opportunity for motivated students to learn. I am convinced that in many schools students can do everything they are asked to do, but not get the quality education afforded students at Walton, Chattahoochee, Northview, etc. Congratulations to this student. I am glad the education he deserved was available to him.

Retiredmathteacher
Retiredmathteacher

Now this is the American Dream.  People can still work hard, obtain an excellent education, and succeed in life.  You can't get it blaming others, thinking others are lucky, and waiting for someone else to put you on the elevator to climb for success.


You do realize that one of the reasons that people belittle teachers is that we can help effect positive change.  The detractors know that they cannot take the many non-monetary, non-prestige rewards that we all receive from a teaching career.