SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. - At least six hours of sleep, some time to relax, and consistency were three keys to success in high school for Keesha Predestin.
Predestin, the valedictorian at Ramapo High School, was honored for her academic accomplishments last week by Rockland County Haiti Relief alongside Spring Valley High School valedictorian Edenis Augustin.
Before experiencing the elation or accomplishment associated with finding out she was No. 1 in the class, Predestin felt something closer to anxiety.
“I knew I would have tough competition to ever end up in this spot so actually being there and knowing that I was only a couple of points away from No. 2 or No. 3 or No. 4," she said. "It was was nerve-wracking."
The wait to find out where she stood in the class might have been the most anxious Predestin allowed herself to get, something uncommon for her. Hard work is a necessity but allowing oneself a chance to relax is a must.
It seems to have been a winning formula: in addition to being named valedictorian, Predestin was the vice president of the school's National Honors Society, president of the Science Honors Society, vice president of the Student Advisory Council, captain of the Science Olympiad Team, and her grade point average exceeded the 100 percent mark. In the fall Predestin will attend the University at Buffalo and enroll in their six-year pharmacy program.
The emphasis on education comes from her parents.
“I felt that if I could make them proud through my accomplishments in my education that it would be a good way to give back to them,” said Predestin, a Haitian-American.
Despite her measured approach, Predestin didn't expect to be named valedictorian. And she molded the commencement ceremony speech she gave this past Saturday around this concept of embracing accomplishments.
“No matter where you end up in life, you are good enough to do what you want to do. And not to let anyone make you believe that you don’t deserve where you end up in life,” Predestin said of her message to her peers.
Predestin is excited for a new experience at Buffalo but admitted she will miss her classmates, who have grown up alongside her in the East Ramapo School District and the solidarity in having overcome the same struggles to get to where they are. She'll also miss teachers like Sharon Stephenson, who was there to provide support and give advice.
The time volunteered in the community by members of the Key Club and the National Honors Society are just two examples of the great things these students do that most people don't hear of, Predestin said.
“And the feeling of being with people that are also like you and have been through the same situation all this time. I’m really going to miss that,” she said.