PAWTUCKET – Four years ago, the Class of 2012 entered Bishop Francis P. Keough Regional High School with fear and trepidation yet eager to embark on a new chapter in their lives. Last Friday night, the 26 class members received their diplomas during graduation ceremonies held at St. Maria Goretti Church, and emerged as talented and accomplished young women well-prepared to accept new challenges as they enter the next phase of their lives.
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Valedictorian Valeria Zarate, who will attend Providence College, told her classmates that in the coming months and years, their lives will be filled with “exciting opportunities and pathways” that will lead them to different places as they pursue their individual goals.
“I believe that what lies within each of us is the ability to do what we put our minds to and proof of that is that we are all here tonight as graduates of the Class of 2012,” said Zarate, whose many activities included volunteering at the Meeting Street School.
“Tomorrow a new day dawns, a day that beckons us, challenges us, and inspires us to continue the journey we call life so that we may leave a positive impression on the world.”
Salutatorian Jaminia Abdulkarim Ojuruwa reminded the graduates how far they had traveled during their four years at the all-girls school.
“We began as strangers but as the years went by we became a family, a family with differences, yet we bonded and learned from each other’s experiences and respected each other’s decisions.”
Recalling the words of the school song – “We are Bishop Keough High girls, sisters one and all, inspired by God’s spirit, we stand proud and tall,” Ojuruwa told her classmates. “As freshmen we didn’t understand the true meaning of those words but now, as young adults, we do. Tonight we are standing proud and tall as we take those first steps into our futures.”
Ojuruwa will attend Quinnipiac University and plans to enter the medical field.
Commencement speaker Dr. Michelle Bento Lavall, a member of the Class of 1981, motivated the graduates with her story of personal success, starting her career as a dental hygienist and attending night classes at Rhode Island College. With the dream of being a dentist and always looking forward, Lavall graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and then completed a two-year post-graduate program in endodontics and now owns a successful dental practice in Fall River, Mass.
“… Don’t let fear overcome your hopes and dreams,” Lavall emphasized. “Don’t let someone tell you what you can or can’t become. You can do anything. I hope to inspire you to believe in yourselves.”
Shataga Hilliard of Providence, attended Bishop Keough for three years, and plans to enter the United States Air Force.
“I value my education a lot,” she said. “It has made a big difference in my life.”
Hilliard noted that the solid Christian values instilled at Keough, and the high school’s strong emphasis on community service, taught her to respect and appreciate people more fully, and to be grateful for God’s many blessings.
Classmate Anaysa Mendez of Johnston said she learned to be a leader at Bishop Keough.
She will attend Rhode Island College in the fall, and plans to be an emergency room trauma nurse.
“My education made me realize that slacking off is not an option,” said Mendez. “You can’t give up when you want to do something.”
She added that a science course in anatomy was pivotal in helping her decide on a nursing career and helped heighten her interest in medicine.
Alice Dele, who will attend American International College where she will major in criminal justice and psychology with aspirations to be a lawyer, noted that volunteering at a women’s shelter and participating in many food drives conducted at Bishop Keough taught her the importance of public service and sharing the many gifts that she has received from God.
“I learned how to be a young woman and to be a servant and help the community,” Dele said.
For Mary Gizzarelli, a parishioner of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul who was previously homeschooled, attending Bishop Keough allowed her to make many friends and taught her to work with others as she prepares to enter the Community College of Rhode Island in the fall.
“Keough taught me how to forgive, to be more empathetic, and to be a better person.”
Bishop Louis E. Gelineau presented the diplomas and offered the invocation. He urged the graduates to always be close to God and serve others.
Bishop Keough Class of 2012
Alex Elizabeth Boghossian?
Keyla Alezandra Castro?
Sadie Angelica Cuello?
Alice Martha Dele?
Julie Dulce Diaz?
Mary Elizabeth Gizzarelli?
Tatyana Zhané Roberson-Gonsahn?
Carolina Masiel Guzman?
Patricia Elaine Heron?
Shataga Alegra Hilliard?
Alexis Clancy King?
Kelly Maria Lopes?
Megan Emily McDonough?
Edie Anne Partington?
Nina Jacqueline Perez?
Nia Louisa Pina?
Philana Hawa Sarno?
Madison Reilly Vanderwolk?
Jordan Gari Wallace?
Valeria Carolina Zárate