WPHS 2022 Valedictorian and Salutatorian Announced
By: Eva Mandelbaum
It’s official: the Class of 2022 Valedictorian and Salutatorian have been announced! Megan Dennis (Valedictorian) and Jimena Perez-Tetuan (Salutatorian) are the incredibly hard workers who’ve made it to the top of their class. Both Megan and Jimena were overjoyed to get this news. “I’m grateful for this opportunity, which has helped me to prove to myself that hard work does pay off. To be completely honest, I was mostly just surprised when I first found out. Throughout high school, I had just worked hard in class, but never had the goal of achieving this rank. So, the final standings came as a bit of a shock,” Megan said. Jimena shares this excitement. “I was overjoyed honestly. I was glad so see I had done the work to stay second, and I could relax. I was also very excited that I was officially a Hispanic salutatorian!” she said.
Megan and Jimena both love the supportive yet at times challenging environment at WPHS. Megan especially loves math, in addition to the camaraderie surrounding sports at White Plains, while Jimena explains that her favorite part of school is her friends. “My favorite thing about school is my friends. They make me love coming to school. I know there should be a more academic answer but it’s the truth,” she said.
Megan and Jimena also reveal valuable information: how they study. Megan explains, “For me, the main thing is definitely staying organized! Writing down all assignments, tests, and study reminders in a planner helps me to keep track of everything. Also, I found that putting my phone out of sight, in a drawer or somewhere across the room, helps me to focus since technology can be a big distraction.” Jimena’s main study tips are to plan ahead. “You’re not always going to have the energy to study. Doing a little everyday works for me,” she says.
From Megan and Jimena, we can also learn that doing well in school does not mean you can’t be involved in extracurricular activities. Megan plays soccer, is a part of Freedom Fighters and Global Ambassadors, and is a waitress and a babysitter. She says that the key to juggling everything is taking things one step at a time. “By focusing on and working hard at the task at hand, I’m able to manage my time and ensure that I’m able to fit everything in,” she explains.
Jimena is a swim instructor and a volunteer in a neurobiology lab, and she’s also in the Science Research club: “I juggle both by planning study time around my extracurricular. And lots of coffee."
In the future, these successful students have lots of excitement in store. Megan said, “This summer, I’m looking forward to getting to see friends and work at my job, which is always a fun and rewarding experience! A few years from now, I’ll hopefully be finishing up college, where I’m currently planning on majoring in business management and minoring in computer science.” Jimena adds, “After this school year, I am looking forward to spending lots of time with friends. In a few years, I see myself working in a lab and conducting research on biomaterials.”
When asked what inspires them, both Megan and Jimena reveal a commonality: for both, their families encourage their drive to succeed. Megan shares that her parents are her biggest inspiration. “I truly admire their dedication to helping others, working hard at their jobs, and setting a good example for my sister and me.”
Jimena explains, “I was born in Mexico, and I was taught about the importance of an education from an early age. I also have an aunt that has a PhD. I have been inspired by my family and their hard work to maintain academic success.”
In addition to their families, the WPHS community has also played a key part in their academic journeys. “What I love about White Plains is the number of opportunities students are presented with. We never have had to worry about not having enough clubs, classes, or sports to choose from, and these options help to create a fun and diverse environment. This school has pushed me to do things that I would never even have imagined possible, while still providing a strong support system in case things don’t work out as planned. It has given me the chance to expand and explore, to meet new people and broaden my viewpoint,” Megan said.
“The WPHS environment is very welcoming because of how diverse it is. Hispanics might not be the majority on STEM fields, especially Hispanic women, but in WPHS, Hispanics and POCs were overrepresented. I never felt like my career plans were uncommon. There are also so many classes, I really got to explore my interests and develop an idea of what I wanted to do," said Jimena.
Both truly inspirational young women send an important message: thriving in school isn’t simply about good grades, but it is also about the activities you do and the people with whom you surround yourself. On this point Jimena said, “As long as you have supportive people by your side, everything will be ok."
Megan shared a piece of advice to other students: “There will be always times when we fail or make mistakes, but these are the times when we need to pick our heads up and take a step forward. Don’t let these challenges stop you from achieving what you’re capable of doing. And, hopefully, have some fun along the way: meet new people, help others, try different things, step outside of your comfort zone! You won’t regret it.”