HARLINGEN – He had to push it into the wee hours, but he got it done.
Roj Pawig did it so well he’s valedictorian of the Harlingen High School South graduating class of 2021.
“When I first heard it was pretty surreal,” said Roj, 18, who will graduate Saturday at Boggus Stadium.
Roj, 18, moved to Harlingen from the Philippines when he was only four years old. He grew up in the school system with the support of dedicated parents.
“I think my parents did a good job of teaching me at a young age,” he said. “It was good that I spoke English at an early age.”
He, like his friend and salutatorian Kennedy Kibler, achieved their success the old-fashioned way: he earned it.
“There were countless nights where I’d just stay up studying for my exams,” he said. “I think from sophomore year it would just increase later like from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sometimes maybe 3 a.m.”
His learning style, he said, is primarily auditory, meaning he retains information better through what he hears.
“I did focus more on what my teacher was saying,” he said. “I think I’m decent at understanding what my teachers are talking about during class, but definitely studying at night helped.”
He plans to study software engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas.
His “amazing math teachers”, he said, helped him toward that goal. He recalled one math instructor in particular, Alma Hernandez, at Coakley Middle School.
“She was my sixth-grade math teacher, and she was very influential,” he said.
He’s enjoyed his years at South, especially just going to school every day and experiencing the great moments with friends.
“They helped me stay focused in school,” he said. “I’d just like to say thanks to my mom and dad for always being there since we moved here. They helped me reach my goal as valedictorian.”