May 25, 2018

Esmeralda Araceli Velasco Garcia, 2018 valedictorian, George Washington Community High School

Esmeralda Araceli Velasco Garcia, 2018 valedictorian, George Washington Community High School.

On June 7, Esmeralda Araceli Velasco Garcia will stand on the stage inside George Washington Community High School and speak to a crowd of well-wishing family and friends to deliver her valedictory address.

It’s a speech she’ll give in English, a language she couldn’t speak or understand when she entered kindergarten.

“I didn’t know English at all when I started kindergarten,” said Esmeralda. “As I moved along my school years, my English improved and now I’m valedictorian of my class.”

Being No. 1 isn’t something she set out to accomplish. It was her genuine love for learning that helped her secure the top spot — along with a few sacrifices, including long nights studying, passing up several opportunities to hang out with friends, and balancing school work with extracurricular activities.

While at George Washington, Esmeralda served on the Yearbook Club, and was a member of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and the National Honor Society.

“I am a person who loves to learn, someone who wants to do the best for my family,” said the first-generation college student. “I did not plan to become valedictorian; it just happened. But it’s an honor to be the valedictorian. I feel that it shows the effort that I put in my high school years.”

In the fall, Esmeralda will attend Ivy Tech Community College to major in software development to further her love for coding. Her goal is to become a Web developer.

Throughout her school career, Esmeralda acknowledges she’s had teachers who have helped her grow academically and in life. Her favorite is George Washington Media Specialist Karen Pierce because, “she is always welcoming and encouraging. She has helped me learn about new scholarships to help pay for college.”

Her advice for current and future IPS students: “Always try to do your best in school.”