Veronica Raymundo “didn’t have a heart to go to school” before her family moved to Murray County and she began attending fourth grade at Chatsworth Elementary.
“I wasn’t committed, I made C’s and B’s but rarely A’s,” said Raymundo, who will graduate with the Murray County High School class of 2012 Thursday night. “Then when we moved here I had some special teachers who helped me and I started doing my work.”
Raymundo, 18, remembered one teacher who “inspired” her.
“She believed in me even though I didn’t really think I was that smart,” Raymundo said. “But she said if I actually tried I could do it, and since then I’ve been making A’s.”
In her honors classes at MCHS, she’s made A’s in British literature and an economics and psychology course. She has also participated in the student council, in Beta Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, worked as a library aide, and volunteered with “Adopt-a-Mile” and recycling projects with Keep Chatsworth-Murray Beautiful.
Now Raymundo, who was born in Florida but raised in Georgia, believes her life’s calling is in social work.
“It’s because I go to church and my parents,” she said of her mother and father from Guatemala. “We ended up coming here because they are assigned as ministers in an Assemblies of God church. I just love my people, and I’ve grown to learn how to translate and help them. When people see that I go to school and speak English they ask if I can come in and translate, and I’m willing to do that.
“I’ve been involved in church for many years and am a Sunday school teacher, and I’m a chauffeur who takes people to locations to help with job applications.”
School librarian Jenny Lock said Raymundo is “one of the best kids I’ve ever taught and had the privilege of knowing.”
“She’s very caring and very responsible, and she’s taught me a lot about Guatemalan culture — she’s probably taught me more than I’ve taught her,” said Lock. “She has such a great heart. She’ll get up in the middle of the night and translate for people and will never complain about it. I see her as an effective social worker who will help people.”
Lock said Raymundo is also a gifted pianist who won the school’s talent show this year.
School counselor Margaret Redmond said Raymundo is a positive influence on and “motivator” to the other students.
“She gets them going and never has a negative word to say about anybody — and she’s got a well-hidden, wicked sense of humor,” Redmond said with a smile.
When she graduates Thursday night — the first one in her family to complete high school — Raymundo said she will be looking toward the future and how she can encourage young students who may be going through that same lack of desire to learn she experienced at one time.
“I want them to try their best and be committed to school, because having an education is what you need to make you happy and move on,” she said. “My parents are really happy and proud of me, and I want other children to experience that, too.”