A long-awaited day finally arrived for the Southern Wayne class of 2022 on the morning of June 14 at the University of Mount Olive.
Loud cheers erupted from a standing-room-only crowd inside Kornegay Arena when nearly 200 students turned their tassels. Cameras flashed to freeze the milestone moment in time, and tears flowed freely from family and friends in attendance.
“This is a day we’ll always remember and the day that we take the next step into life,” said senior James Earl Broadhurst III.
This group, according to fellow seniors Madison Blizzard and Gavin Simons, earned success with hard work and failure. COVID-19 presented a challenge that included online learning and in-person instruction through a “pod” system.
Blizzard had full intentions of earning solid grades in the most-difficult courses. When the virus made the world crawl at a glacial pace, she changed her focus and realized that success is subjective.
High school memories altered by the pandemic caused the seniors to appreciate fellowship and friendship when they returned to campus.
“We have not had the typical high school experience,” Blizzard said. “One thing I do know is that it made us stronger. How many people that are alive right now can say they completed almost two years of high school during a pandemic? Not many.”
A multi-sport and all-conference athlete, Simons shared a story about a fourth-grade math challenge that involved multiplication tables and division.
Simons failed a visual quiz.
He needed a month to gather his nerves and tackle the test.
This time, he easily passed.
“Even though I had been capable of passing those quizzes in more than a few days, my fear of failing in parallel means doing nothing at all,” Simons said. “I think it is important to keep in mind that having faith in oneself, and also in God, will get you closer where you want to go versus doing nothing out of fear.”
Summa Cum Laude graduates (graduating with the highest distinction) were Mark Anderson, Noah Barrett, Madison Blizzard, Laci Capri, Aniya Harvey, Caroline Jones, Nerchka Maxi, Mayra Morales, Emma Proctor, Gavin Simons, Anna Summerlin, Catherine Summerlin, Bethany Tadlock, Reagan Waller and Kaitlyn Whitley.
Magna Cum Laude graduates (graduating with great distinction) were Kalyn Aycock, Austin Cartagena, Gibran Chaires, Georgia Fulghum, Katelyn Gregory, Phillip Holmes, Medjina Joanis, Nathan Joyner, Nolan Joyner, Reece Maudlin, Haley Ortiz Salass, Elijah Smith, Lehyssa St. Julien, Andrew Templar and Evelyn Trejo.
Cum Laude graduates (graduating with distinction) were Alex Davis, Kia Fullwood, Joshua Hernandez-Hernandez, William Holland, Graham Jernigan, Sara Lopez, Javier Loria, Olga Mojica Soriano and Erick Pineda Gutierrez.
Honor graduates (3.25 GPA or higher) were Mark Anderson, Kaylyn Aycock, Noah Barrett, Marlita Bernardo Mendez, Madison Blizzard, Kevin Brown, Jasmin Caceres-Williams, Laci Capri, Austin Cartagena, Alexander Castaneda Herrera, Johan Cazares Martinez, Gibran Chaires Moron, Lindsay Cornelio Lopez, Alex Davis, Anthony Duke, Georgia Fulghum, Kia Fullwood, Samia George, Breanna Glanton, Katelyn Gregory, Aniya Harvey, Wendy Hernandez, Joshua Hernandez-Hernandez, Alexander Hicks, William Holland, Phillip Holmes, Graham Jernigan, Dave-Stelie Joanis, Medjina Joanis, Caroline Jones, Nathan Joyner, Nolan Joyner, Allie Lane, Karina Lopez, Perla Lopez, Sara Lopez, Jorge Lopez-Gutierrez, Javier Loria, Michael Martin, Reece Mauldin, Nercha Maxi, Olga Mojica-Soriano, Mayra Morales, Luke Muston, Merlyn Orellana Ramos, Haley Ortiz-Salas, Erick Pineda-Gutierrez, Emma Proctor, Javier Rodriguez-Alvarado, Destiny Rouse, David Sanchez-Ortiz, Gavin Simons, Elijah Smith, Lehyssa St. Julien, Anna Summerlin, Catherine Summerlin, Bethany Tadlock, Andrew Templar, Evelyn Trejo, Cruz Vera, Reagan Waller, Kaitlyn Whitley and Kinsee Wise.
N.C. Academic Scholars (3.5 GPA or higher) were Mark Anderson, Kaylyn Aycock, Noah Barrett, Madison Blizzard, Laci Capri, Austin Cartagena, Gibran Chaires Moron, Alex Davis, Georgia Fulghum, Kia Fullwood, Breanna Glanton, Katelyn Gregory, Aniya Harvey, Wendy Hernandez, Phillip Holmes, Graham Jernigan, Medjina Joanis, Caroline Jones, Nathan Joyner, Nolan Joyner, Sara Lopez, Javier Loria, Nerchka Maxi, Mayra Morales, Haley Ortiz-Salas, Erick Pineda-Gutierrez, Emma Proctor, David Sanchez-Ortiz, Gavin Simons, Elijah Smith, Anna Summerlin, Catherine Summerlin, Bethany Tadlock, Andrew Templar, Evelyn Trejo, Reagan Waller and Kaitlyn Whitley.