Alison DeLeon Escobar – Gateway’s Valedictorian 2018

 By Malaika Khan

  • How did you feel when you found out you were valedictorian?
    • Well, first Dr.Samaroo called me to his office. There were rumors already flying around that I may be valedictorian. I was extremely excited because I felt like this is what I was waiting for. I was very satisfied when I found out that I was valedictorian because I had worked very hard these last four years and I did deserve it. It was definitely a fulfilling achievement.
  • What is your work ethic?
    • I’m not going to lie, I did procrastinate just like any other student has at one point. I think my real saving grace was organization. I planned my time out from when I started my assignments and I kept everything in its assigned folder. I never had assignments misplaced and I never lost them. I did not sleep a lot every night, but that’s mostly because I was juggling AP’s and various after school activities.
  • When did you establish your work ethic?
    • I started becoming extremely organized and serious about school at the beginning of ninth grade. I realized that high school was no joke and it would be the foundation of my life from here on out. I changed how I approached new people and opportunities. I was thankful that I had a new beginning and I wasn’t going to waste it.
  • Who was the most influential person during your time at Gateway?
    • Staff: Lopez was the most influential teacher I have met at Gateway. The other teachers also mean a lot to me and have helped me throughout my time here. However, Lopez has had the biggest impact on me. I saw him every day and he kept me grounded. He made sure I never took my eyes off the prize and kept me on track. For that, I am forever grateful.
    • Friends: My friends have also been extremely influential and have helped me destress and have fun. Without them, high school would have been a very difficult time for me.
  • What college are you going to and what do you hope to do?
    • I am attending NYU this fall. I will also be living on campus. One of the best things about my acceptance to NYU is that I received a full ride. This is extremely important because my family has gone through financial hardships. My parents work hard every day and they’re always making sure I’m doing my best in school so that I can cruise through the rest of my life easily. A full ride is an extreme honor. I will most likely go into neuroscience and become a surgeon. However, I am open to all opportunities that may be thrown my way. NYU wasn’t my first choice. Nonetheless, I am not disappointed because I feel like I can do just as well at NYU that I would do anywhere.
  • What was your most memorable moment during your time at Gateway?
    • There isn’t just one moment that I find memorable. I think every day I have taken away a good memory from Gateway. Though I can’t remember them all at this moment, I will find myself thinking about them when the situation applies. I have had many laughs and conversations and have spilled tears as well. Every one of those moments has shaped me into the person I am today.
  • What activities have you been a part of?
    • I have been a part of the volleyball team since the ninth grade. I was recently a part of senior council this year as the publicity manager. I have participated in mostly every show in Gateway, including the black history month one and various other shows with Ortiz. I’ve also participated in the breast cancer walks. The most important activities out of all of these were my time with the volleyball team and being a part of senior council. I have made very strong friendships through both extracurricular and I’m grateful. I was so dedicated to volleyball that I even wrote my college essay about it.
  • What do you think is your second biggest academic accomplishment?
    • Getting a full ride scholarship to NYU is my second biggest academic accomplishment. It shows that they think I’m a good investment. It’s a very gratifying achievement for me. It shows that they saw potential in me and knew that I could make a difference to their community.
  • Describe your time at Gateway in three words:
    • Humbling: I was always surrounded by so much diversity. This was extremely humbling for me because I never felt better than anyone else and I always got good vibes from everybody else. The small size of the school really made this place feel like home and the people like family.
    • Challenging: There is always people competing to be the best of the best. The healthy competition really made me determined to do my best. Others had high expectations of me and there was a lot of pressure. This made me strive to do my best and I almost always ended up with good results. The challenging environment gave me an opportunity to grow.
    • Welcoming: I was never shut out when it came to Gateway. No matter who I’m with or who I’m talking to, I can easily carry on a conversation. I’m always extremely comfortable when it comes to Gateway. I feel like this is an experience that many people may not have at other schools.
  • What course do you feel helped you the most in Gateway?
    • Taylor’s 8th grade English course helped me the most. I established writing skills for high school and she gave me really helpful pointers. The best thing about this course was that Ms. Taylor didn’t cut us any slack. She was strict and gave me a taste of how others would regard me in high school and college. I’m grateful that she showed me this instead of leaving me surprised when life wasn’t like middle school anymore.
  • Do you have any regrets or anything you would like to change?
    • I wish I was a better judge of character in the beginning. Then again, you can’t know somebody until you do. I feel that if I had already deemed people detrimental to my goals in life, I would’ve saved myself a lot of time. Other than what I’ve mentioned, there is nothing I would change. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that it has brought me to where I am today.
  • What advice would you give to other students at Gateway?
    • I think you should always enjoy yourself. I know it does get stressful but stressing all through high school will just leave you stressing all through college. Enjoy high school because it is one of the most defining moments of your life. You should also remember that you have access to the education that other people may not have had.
    • You don’t need to be the valedictorian to be the best you can be. The people that I’m graduating with are some of the best people I have ever met, and I am confident that no matter what college they end up at, they will make a pretty good life for themselves.
    • A pro tip for the juniors: Fee waivers are your best friend. Hold them extremely close to your heart because they can help you save hundreds of dollars.