Every year students compete for the academic honor of being named valedictorian. Traditionally, only one student is prized with this prestigious title. However, Fatima Roque and Tri Truong were in for an unusual surprise when official rankings identified two students as number one for the first time in recent Dallas ISD history.
Roque and Truong, both 17, shared the valedictorian honor during their graduation from the School of Health Professions at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center.
“I never imagined I’d be a dual valedictorian,” Roque said. “That was a huge surprise, and I felt excited because we are good friends. I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else.”
Truong hopes their academic achievement can show others that hard work never goes unrecognized, even if it means sharing the spotlight.
“This way you aren’t promoting kids to compete with each other,” Truong said. “You’re just promoting them to do their best.”
Although Roque and Truong’s path to this achievement wasn’t necessarily paved, they both learned how to utilize the resources they had and grow from their experiences.
“I grew up in Vietnam, so I saw all the bad aspects of life,” Truong said. “It helped me realize that if I never do anything to change my future, I might get stuck in that cycle.”
Roque admits she wasn’t always a star pupil. as she recalled a time when she was at the bottom of her class in middle school. Roque said playing the violin helped her academically excel and credits music to stimulating her mind in new ways.
Unlike many students who have taken advantage of reaching out to parents for help on homework or difficult lessons, Roque and Truong couldn’t do the same. Truong’s parents do not speak or read English while Roque’s parents did not finish elementary school.
Nonetheless, their parents supported them in other ways by ensuring they had all the necessary tools to thrive in school.
Principal LaSandra Sanders said there are no two students more deserving of the honor.
“It will show other people that you’re not a product of your environment,” Sanders said. “Anything is attainable, all you have to have is a desire and someone to help encourage you along the way.”