Camila Rojas was named salutatorian at Hempstead High School for 2023. Rojas hasn’t let academic challenges get in the way of friendship. Rojas, who has a 101.5 grade-point average competed with the valedictorian throughout high school. Even so, it never dampened their friendship.
“We realized we had a lot in common despite the competition,” Rojas remembers. “Neither a number or a grade ever got in the way of our friendship.”
Rojas, who earned a full-ride scholarship to Barnard College, plans to major in education with an emphasis in urban studies and urban education.
“I am passionate about education, especially K through 12,” Rojas said. “It is the foundation for everyone’s future, and I want to work in under-represented communities such as Hempstead, to be able to help make the necessary changes.
She says her ultimate goal is to be a principal, but she understands that that path will take her through the classroom. Rojas has excellent role models in her 24-year-old brother, who graduated from Farmingdale State College, and her mom, who is a housekeeper but who adjusts her schedule to accommodate her children’s academic activities.
“My mom has helped me the most,” Rojas says. “She builds her schedule around our activities. She really supports what we do.”
Her brother has helped her with her college application and with advice about things he has already gone through. She says she’s doing her part for her sixth-grader sister.
Rojas moved to the United Stated from El Salvador when she was 7. She didn’t speak English and didn’t know many people but instead of being overwhelmed by the task of learning English, she chose to dominate the language to the point she doesn’t fear it and will major in English.
“At first I’d zone out, then I began to push myself and suddenly, I began to understand,” Rojas remembers. “You cannot let obstacles hold you back. You can’t let the obstacles in your life define you. Instead, learn from the circumstances.”
When she finally has some down time, Rojas fills it with activities. She enjoys all types of art and spends time painting, sketching or digital art. She also is president of the Key Club, works on the yearbook and is active in student government.
“I’ve slowed down a little,” Rojas explains, “because AP exams are coming up.”
There she goes again taking obstacles in stride.