May 25, 2018

Joi Somer Moseley, 2018 salutatorian, Arlington Community High School

Joi Somer Moseley, 2018 salutatorian, Arlington Community High School.

Like many urban school students, Joi Somer Moseley has overcome obstacles in her life. But it’s not anything she wants to talk about or dwell on. Instead, she prefers to think about how those hardships brought her family closer together — not further apart.

“Because of how I struggled and the things my mother did for her family, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her, my sister or my brothers,” said Joi. “To me, family is more important than anything, and I want to make each of them proud.”

And proud she has made them. When Joi graduates from Arlington Community High School on June 7, she will do so as salutatorian of one of the largest classes in the school’s history.

In fact, making her family proud became an “obsession, one that led me to where I am one of the best in my class,” said Joi. “I thank God for the things I’ve been able to overcome to get to this point.”

Being salutatorian is actually a surreal experience, not something she planned to do.

“My family and I actually joke about it and how I’m going to sing my speech at graduation,” said Joi, a music lover who takes music classes at Arlington. “But the fact that I am actually one of the best in my class and I am going to be recognized for that, it’s surreal.”

Born in the Bronx, N.Y., of West Indian heritage (her family is from Barbados), Joi moved to Indianapolis at age 3 and was raised by her mother and grandparents. But she found extended family throughout IPS, especially in Arlington’s choir teacher Matthew Jackson.

“Mr. Jackson has been a tremendous supporter for me and I consider him family,” said Joi. “He has helped me with school, my singing and my personal life. … I wish I knew that high school wasn’t going to be as lonely as I thought it would be and that I would end up leaving with more additions to my family than ever before.”

She advises IPS students coming behind her to not get lost in the crowd — despite the size of IPS high schools. “Make yourself known and be the person you know your family and God would want you to be,” said Joi. “Let no one stop you from being the best you that you can be.”

In the fall, Joi will study culinary arts at Ivy Tech Community College. She plans to become a restauranteur.