Helen He earned the title of Valedictorian for Pilgrim’s Class of 2019, earning numerous titles and awards for her unwavering scholastic success and dedication. Supported by the endless encouragement and guidance of her friends, teachers, and family, He achieved the number one rank in her class and, in doing so, learned “the true meaning of hard work and sacrifice.” She will attend Tufts University in the fall, where she plans to major in biology.
She was a member of the Science Olympiad, and served as a chemistry tutor on a weekly basis; however, the majority of her time was devoted to working in her family’s restaurant, Yummy Kitchen, after school. Even with her responsibilities, she earned many awards, including the Pell Medal for History, the Society of Women Engineers Award, the American Mathematical Society Award, the Outstanding Student in Biology Award, and the Warwick Veterans Memorial High School Class of 1960 Award. She was inducted into the National Honor Society, the Rhode Island Honor Society, and the Spanish Honor Society, and received the President’s Education Award.
“I will always remember the valuable life lessons that my friends and teachers have taught me during my four years of high school, life lessons that have shaped me into a better person overall,” she wrote regarding her memories of high school.
She stated that her life is lived by a Chinese proverb, which translates to “Nothing is impossible if one puts their heart into it.”
“I always put as much effort as I can into everything I do, so that in the end, regardless of the result, I will know that I have already done the best I could,” she wrote.
Eva Silva ranked second, earning the title of Class Salutatorian. Describing her teachers as “incredible mentors,” Silva’s self-motivation was fueled by the unconditional support of her educators and loved ones. She will attend the University of Miami, double majoring in global business and marketing and a currently undecided STEM field.
A member of her school’s theater program for all four years, she eventually became the dance captain of the competitive show choir she participated in during her final two years. In addition of being a part of Mock Trial, she also served as secretary for Student Council and was co-president of the Travel Club. She received the Brown Book Award, the Rensselaer Medalist Award for Scientific and Mathematics Excellence, the President’s Education Award, and a certificate of recognition from the governor for her participation in the PrepareRI internship program.
Silva found herself working hard to make the most of the opportunities with which her parents had striven to provide her upon immigrating to the United States.
“My parents have definitely done everything they can and have helped me tremendously to get where I am, as they always pushed me to do my best. There have also been very supportive teachers that have made a huge impact on the course of my life, such as my history teacher Dr. Michael Xiarhos and junior English teacher Ms. Margaret Pouliot,” she wrote.
Samantha Brown ranked third and earned the title of Class Essayist, citing her excitement for learning as her motivation to excel. She will attend the University of Rhode Island to major in finance.
Brown served as an academic tutor, a volunteer for her church, and was a member of the Photography Club. She received the Bausch & Lomb Science Award, the Middlebury French Award, and the Presidential Education Award, and was named an Outstanding Student in both French and Business.
“Both my teachers and my friends have helped me enjoy high school, but my Mom and Dad have always helped me enjoy the challenges and find the bright side during these past four years,” she wrote.
“I will remember how much I changed from freshman year; I was a whole different person. I will also remember the teachers who taught me valuable lessons that extend beyond the classroom, and the friendships that I made.”
Julianna Cameron, ranked fourth in her class, said her success was fueled by teachers that encouraged her to always do better while still being satisfied with what she had already accomplished. She will attend Marymount University, with a double major in biochemistry and international affairs,
Cameron participated in Mock Trial, RI Girls’ State, and Girls Who Code, and served as chief clerk of Model Legislature and treasurer of the Venture Crew. She also volunteered at Oakland Beach Elementary School and the Rhode Island College Writing Camp. She earned the RI Civic Leadership Award, the Bay Path University Book Award, and the Venturing Award, won Bronze in the National Spanish Exam, and received a Good Citizen Citation from the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
“Without a doubt, I will remember all my friends that I have made. They never failed to make me smile or laugh whenever I depressed or stressed out. They always pushed me to be a better version of myself and because of that I am so grateful to them,” Cameron wrote.
Nicholas Jaggi ranked fifth, his drive to excel motivated by the encouragement and hard work of his parents and teachers. He will attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall to study engineering.
Jaggi participated in basketball, volleyball, and jazz band, was captain of the soccer team, and served as treasurer of the concert band. He earned the U.S. Army Scholar and Athlete Award, the Pilgrim Physics Award, and the Second Team All-Division Award for soccer. He also participated in scouting, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Honor Society and National Honor Society.
“I will always remember the fun times I’ve had with my friends, the long hours of schoolwork and the great times playing Pilgrim sports, especially winning a state championship in my final season of soccer,” he wrote.
Anna Cetera ranked sixth in her class, determined to actively seek out academic opportunities instead of waiting for them to come to her. She will attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall, with an intended major of biomedical engineering.
Cetera participated in varsity gymnastics and outdoor track for all of her four years at Pilgrim, earning the title of captain for both sports. She was also vice president of Student Council in her junior year, and served as secretary for the National Honor Society. She was a member of the Travel Club and the Blood Drive Committee.
She earned the Harvard Book Award and the William H. Sheehan Memorial Scholarship, and received honorable mentions for the National Spanish Exam and the Scholastic Arts and Writing Award. She received an All-State Award for gymnastics and an All-City Award for outdoor track, and was inducted into the Foreign Language and Rhode Island honor societies.
“I will remember making close relationships with not only my friends, but my teachers and coaches as well,” she wrote. “From them, I learned how to appreciate the moments I’ve been given the chance to experience and to keep my eyes on the horizon.”
Julia Shaw ranked seventh, taking inspiration from teachers that taught her life lessons and challenged her to take her studies to the next level. She will attend Bryant University and plans to major in international business.
During her time at Pilgrim, she became president of the Random Acts of Kindness Club, vice president of the Environmental Club, chief of Fundraising in the Executive Committee, and was a teen advisor at her church. She was inducted into the National and Spanish honor societies and received the Bryant Book Award, the All-Division Cross-Country Award, and the RI Track and Field Coaches Association Award.
Her most treasured memory of high school will be her junior prom, which she helped plan and organize as part of the Executive Committee, and how rewarding it felt to see her hard work pay off. She credits many teachers, including English teacher Mrs. Dwyer, psychology teacher Mr. Kennedy, and Spanish teacher Mrs. Farias, with creating a welcoming environment for her to challenge herself in.
“At home, I was inspired by my family who always encouraged me to do my best each and every day,” she wrote.
Deyana Underwood ranked eighth, pushed to succeed by her parents and advanced placement course teachers. She will attend Assumption College in the fall and plans to major in neuroscience.
“My grandfather being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s motivated me to study neuroscience in hopes of becoming a neurologist in the future,” she wrote.
Underwood participated in ice hockey, lacrosse and concert band, served as the dance captain for drama club, and was the treasurer for Best Buddies. She received the Wellesley College Book Award, the Marine Corps Scholastic Achievement Award, and the Picerne Family Foundation Scholarship. She will always remember the time she spent with friends throughout her many activities.
Keeley Kirejczyk ranked ninth, determined to prove that her goal of joining the military did not mean that she was incapable of outstanding academic achievement. A member of a large military family, Kirejczyk has enlisted in the United States Air Force and will attend the Community College of the Air Force. She plans to someday become either an airborne intelligence and surveillance operator or an aerospace physiologist.
While working three part-time jobs throughout high school and serving as a volunteer dance teacher assistant, she also found the time to participate in community service at Pilgrim and was a Southern RI Youth Ballet Soloist. She received the Salve Regina Book Award and was the recipient of several dance scholarships, including a scholarship to the Dance Teacher’s Club of Boston. She was also inducted into the National and Foreign Language honor societies.
“The people that have contributed the most to my success and enjoyment of high school would be my friends, family, and teachers,” she wrote. “I enjoyed high school mostly thanks to my friends, but I owe it to my family, teachers, and my own motivation for helping me succeed.”
Emma Williams ranked tenth, overcoming the consolidation of Warwick Vets High School in order to adjust and excel. She will attend Hawaii Pacific University, where she will double major in English and cinematic film production.
Williams served as captain of the varsity golf team, was the lead scenic designer for the drama club, and was treasurer for the National Honor Society. She also participated in travel club, math league, and the Rhode Island Blood Drive Committee, and was inducted into the Spanish Honor Society. She received the Rhode Island Blood Center High School Hero Award.
“My future goals, aspirations, and possible future endeavors have motivated me to excel and have driven me to accomplish all that I have so far,” she wrote. She thanks her many supportive teachers, as well as Principal Habershaw, for supporting her through her time at Pilgrim and for making the consolidation as smooth as possible.