Personality: Wilmer Matamoros-Menjivar

Spotlight on Richmond Public Schools top 2024 valedictorian

5/30/2024, 6 p.m.
High school has had its ups and downs for Wilmer Mtr. Matamoros-Menjivar, a senior at Richmond High School for the …

High school has had its ups and downs for Wilmer Mtr. Matamoros-Menjivar, a senior at Richmond High School for the Arts.

Mr. Matamoros-Menjivar began his high school journey at the start of the pandemic. He completed half of eighth grade online before transitioning to high school, which was fully online. Although an adjustment, it wasn’t a problem for him.

“I always get my work done, so it wasn’t really a challenge, especially since doing everything online was a bit simpler,” Matamoros Menjivar said.

In his valedictory speech, Mr.Matamoros-Menjivar spoke about overcoming rejection and how it can open new doors, drawing from his own experiences. He had applied to a few specialty high school programs but wasn’t accepted by any, which left him feeling “miserable” and “devastated.”

Although not his first choice, Mr. Matamoros-Menjivar benefited from attending Richmond High School for the Arts, formerly George Wythe High School. There, he met Kakim Fung, his 10th-grade calculus teacher. Mr. Fung helped him enroll in dual-credit courses, allowing Mr. Matamoros-Menjivar to take online classes at Reynolds Community College alongside his high school courses.

By junior year, he had earned a 5.28 GPA.

“Mr. Fung was the person that helped me on this journey of becoming valedictorian,” he said.

The most challenging part, according to Mr. Matamoros-Menjivar, were the rigorous advanced placement courses, taught at a college level.

“The workload of both (community college and AP courses) tried to set me back, but by pushing through, I accomplished it,” he explained.

Mr. Matamoros-Menjivar is proud to be the first in his family to attend college when he starts at James Madison University this fall.

“It’s a great feeling knowing I’ve accomplished so much that my family never had the opportunity to,” he said.

Meet the Richmond Public Schools 2024 top valedictorian and this week’s Personality, Wilmer Matamoros-Menjivar:

Latest honor: RPS 2024 top valedictorian.

GPA: 5.28.

What makes a GPA soar beyond a 4.0: Taking dual enrollment classes is a big help but also being determined and putting the hard work in.

Size of my graduating class: 208 students.

Extracurricular activities: I am in the Boy Scouts in Troop 442. I am also the Senior Patrol leader for the troop.

Leadership roles in school activities: Although being a class officer didn’t interest me, I often translated for teachers and gave tours to students.

Family members: My father, Wilmer Omar Matamoros is a masonry worker. My mother Nury Menjivar is a stay-at-home mother. I also have two younger brothers, Daniel and Dennis, and a younger sister, Gissella.

Date and place of birth: I was born May 14 in Richmond.

Reaction to valedictorian honor: Even though I knew by my junior year that I was going to be valedictorian, the moment it became official my reaction was to feel proud of myself.

Family’s reaction: They were very happy and proud of what I had accomplished.

Main point I will make in valedictory address: Overcoming rejection is hard but will open many more doors for opportunities.

The university I selected: James Madison University.

Reason: I chose JMU because I love being in the mountains and I also received the Centennial Scholarship, which will allow me a guaranteed full scholarship over the next four years.

What I plan to major in: Business management.

How a positive outlook impacts scoring high: My mindset is everything. If I have confidence in myself that I am prepared, I know that I will do well.

What truly motivates me to study and excel: I know that all the hard work I put in now will help pave my future.

How much time I devoted to studying: I spent a lot of my high school time studying but I know it won’t be anything compared to college.

What really makes me smart: I wouldn’t call myself smart per se, but I work really hard and I absorb a lot of information.

A good teacher is: Someone who goes the extra mile for their student and cares not only about their academic success but also their individual, personal success.

Career goal: I envision myself working for a high-profile company that is within the business workforce.

The secret to earning all As: Putting the work in and paying attention in class.

Advice I would give my high school freshman self: You’ll be all right, just work hard and you’ll get there.

Most unforgettable experience during high school: My fourth-period class in my junior year with all my good friends and my favorite teacher in the world, Ms. Boaz.

Teachers who influenced me the most: Mr. Fung and Ms. Boaz were two teachers who motivated me to continue all my hard work and invested in my success.

How I start the day: By waking up late with my mind set on graduation.

The three words that best describe me: Ambitious, motivated, persistent.

If I had 10 extra minutes in the day I would: Sleep.

Best late-night snack: Honey Nut Cheerios.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Camping.

A quote that inspires me: “For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.” — Barack Obama

The best thing my parents ever taught me: To work hard.

The people who influenced me the most: My parents.

Book that influenced me the most: “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It influenced me by opening my eyes to a different perspective.

Next goal: Graduate college.