Valedictorians aim for STEM careers

Published 7:49 pm Saturday, May 30, 2015

It takes hard work and dedication even to graduate high school. Even more so to be an honors graduate.

But to be the best of the best of the best? That’s really saying something.

As has become tradition here at the Suffolk News-Herald, we did a series of five stories in the last couple of weeks on the valedictorian from each of Suffolk’s five high schools.


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It’s always enjoyable to report on the accomplishments and accolades achieved by young people in Suffolk. This year’s class of valedictorians was multi-faceted, but they had one interesting thing in common.

Educators and industry leaders in the past decade or so have placed a lot of emphasis on the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. There are whole schools dedicated to these fields. Reams of reports have been printed about the number of jobs available in these fields and the legions of American students who are graduating unprepared to fill them. The media have used a lot of ink publicizing the fact that blacks and females are terribly underrepresented in the fraction of people who hold these jobs and who are in training to hold these jobs.

But this year’s class of valedictorians from Suffolk will go a long way toward solving those problems and breaking those stereotypes, because all five of them aim to have a career in one of the STEM fields.

King’s Fork High School valedictorian Sydney Billmeyer is working toward a career in mechanical engineering.

Lakeland High School valedictorian Jeremy Hill hopes to enter the field of computer engineering.

Nansemond River High School valedictorian Richard R. Hyman III hopes to own an engineering firm — and also become president of the United States.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy valedictorian Maya Vankataraman aspires to a career in green energy.

And Suffolk Christian Academy’s valedictorian Kelly Lester hopes to become an obstetric nurse, which like all parts of the health care field involves science, technology and math skills.

We’re encouraged about the future by reading about the accomplishments of these five fine young people and can’t wait to hear more about them.

We congratulate all of this year’s valedictorians, and indeed all 1,000 or so of the graduates. We wish we could have written a story about the dreams and goals of each and every one of you.