2020 Valedictorian Credits Her Success to Life’s Challenges

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Photo Courtesy of Kateri Espinosa

Andie Fields

Kateri Espinosa is Gaither High School’s senior class valedictorian. Espinosa’s journey to get where she is now may not have been easy, but students and teachers agree that her hard work has paid off.

Espinosa’s influence was felt in all the activities she was a member, including National Honor Society, Beta, Chorus, Senate, Thirteenth Circuit Teen Court Program and many more. 

“Throughout high school, I learned to be honest and selective about what I can and cannot add to my plate at any given time. There are so many opportunities on campus to get involved in clubs and activities and I have had to learn how to pick and choose what to be a part of. By doing so, I can ensure that I do everything to the best of my abilities and avoid being spread too thin,” Espinosa said. 

Like seniors across the country, Espinosa has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I’ll never get to experience some of the milestones of senior year such as grad bash, prom and graduation, at least not in the same way. But I also think that this has made my senior year memorable in a different way,” said Espinosa. 

“As the class of 2020, we will always remember this year as one in which we had to be strong and wise and persevere in the face of tremendous adversity, and be reminded that if we can get past this, we are capable of anything.”

Espinosa also explained how much this has affected her future plans. Espinosa plans to attend Princeton University to get a bachelor’s degree in public policy and international affairs. 

“Preview days at all the universities I was admitted to were cancelled and all programming has been moved online so I had to make my decision without getting the opportunity to visit some schools in person. I’ve also become quite the Zoom expert as a result,” she said. 

Espinosa grew up in a loving household with her mother Carolina Garcia Serpa and her brother Braulio Serpa. Espinosa was separated from her father at the young age of five. Even though she knew he was still there, she dealt with the loss of her father and worried about him the same way he worried about her. 

“It has served as constant motivation for me to do well in school and give my full effort to everything I do in hopes of one day becoming an immigration lawyer and fighting for people in situations like my family’s,” Espinosa said. 

Espinosa had to deal with the loss of her mother at the young age of 18. Despite losing such a huge influence in her life, she continues to find the brightness in every situation.  

“I am inspired by people, and I view life as a progression of interactions with my community… I have the opportunity to learn, teach and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships which behold the power to make the world a better place for us all,” Espinosa said. 

She talked about how Senate Sponsor Teresa Trumbach has had a big influence on how Espinosa views her success and helped her pave the path to all that she deserves. 

Espinosa wants underclassmen and her peers to know that goal-setting is the best way to improve oneself and accomplish things.

“Set clear goals for yourself in all areas of life. When you set goals for yourself, you have a finish line to run towards, which will provide continuous motivation and encouragement as you work to become a better version of yourself,” said Espinosa. 

When students talk about their classmate Kateri Espinosa, they all say the same thing. She is a sweet girl who worked hard to get where she is; to get to where she deserves to be.