McCoy valedictorian learned true value of in-person learning

·2 min read

Monsignor McCoy High School valedictorian Camila Tirado Ribero crossed the stage and is now looking toward the next step in her academic journey.

Tirado Ribero graduated alongside her classmates on May 26, in what was McCoy’s first graduation ceremony since the beginning of the pandemic. While she admits being nervous prior to the ceremony – during which she gave a valedictorian speech – she has only good memories of the day.

“I was so nervous. I practised with my dad and mom,” Tirado Ribero told the News. “It was nerve racking. It was a really nice day, though.

“It felt weird because the last graduation ceremony was my brother’s year; and that was three years ago.”

When the pandemic first emerged, Tirado Ribero and her classmates were in Grade 10. They spent much of the next one-and-a-half years learning remotely, something she says was challenging, as students did not have access to traditional educational facilities, nor the social and recreational aspects of high school.

“Online learning was hard,” she said. “But I feel like the teachers did a really good job of making sure they showed everything online.”

Tirado Ribero is glad she and her classmates were able to return to in-person learning for much of their final year.

“I feel like we all kind of came together as a class and were just unified,” she said. “I feel like because we didn’t get a little bit of our high school experience because of COVID, we all kind of bonded (this year).”

While Tirado Ribero will miss high school, she is looking forward to attending the University of Alberta in September, where she will study neuroscience.

“I chose neuroscience because I’m really interested in the brain and seeing how the brain works,” she said. “It’s really interesting and fascinating.”

Cheering her on are her parents, who Tirado Ribero says are also two of her greatest role models.

“I feel like I was just driven by seeing my parents because they were immigrants who started a new life here,” she said. “They were lawyers in Colombia. They went to school again here and became social workers. So I saw what my parents could do, and thought, ‘Oh, I can do more with the opportunities I have here.’

“I just always like to improve and I’m very persistent. If I don’t know something, I really like to learn it.”

KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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