For Victor Verdugo, graduating from high school is a journey into the unknown. But it’s a journey the 18-year-old said he’s ready for.
The senior graduates this Saturday and in the fall he’ll be leaving his hometown to study on a completely different coast.
Verdugo will attend Marymount Manhattan College, a liberal arts university, in New York to study communications. His hope is to intern and then launch a career that combines public relations and fashion.
While he says New York will be much different than Newark, he said he’s always looked at moving so that he can experience the city life.
“It’s not the traditional college experience. I never really wanted that,” Verdugo said. “I’ll be living on my own, not just going to school."
But there are many things the graduate said he will miss about this small town. What he’ll miss the most?
“The security,” Verdugo said.
Still, he said he’s excited to move forward into adulthood.
“Uncertainty is good at some points, like having to build your own path,” he added.
The path Verdugo led in Newark is vast.
Verdugo participated in the high school’s student newspaper, was part of the Link Crew that helps incoming freshman, was a member of the Indo-American Club, was part of the cast for former drama teacher Steve Harrington’s last theater production of Les Miserables and is one of the first Newark Memorial graduates involved with the Puente Project Club.
Newark Memorial’s Puente Project program supports students identified as educationally disadvantaged with their academic goals of going to a four-year college or university and build a career.
Outside of school, Verdugo has helped build youth programs at the Newark Library.
In 2011, he won the Youth Award at the for having founded the library’s program, which brings teen volunteers in to help preschool to elementary-age children develop their reading skills throughout the summer.
Verdugo was also a member of the Newark Library Teen Advisory Group who also received recognition at last year’s volunteer awards night.
Still, the teen remains humble about his accomplishments. He said he’s always been self-motivated, which is reason why his extracurricular activities never felt like an obligation.
“I’ve always known what I wanted to do,” Verdugo said.
The Class of 2012 graduation will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. at the high school's football stadium.
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