Jacob Fernandez said one phone call a few weeks ago perfectly capped off his high school experience at Destrehan High School.
“I received a call from Mr. Madere, and he informed me that I was the salutatorian,” Fernandez, a Destrehan resident, said. “He congratulated me. I guess I hoped I was in the running … I knew I had pretty good grades, but especially over this past year I feel like that was really put to the test with COVID and hybrid scheduling.”
The news of the distinction was as fun to share as it was to hear.
“My family was ecstatic,” Fernandez said. “They were really happy for me. They gave me a hug and told me how proud they were of me.”
Fernandez packed his high school years at Destrehan High School with activities. He was a member of Mu Alpha Theta, the newspaper club, the National Honor Society and robotics, his favorite extra-curricular.
“In robotics I was able to learn a lot of community service and how STEM can be applied to community service,” he said. “I also got some exposure to what I want to do in college.”
Fernandez will major in computer science at Loyola University New Orleans, where he hopes to gather the skills necessary to pursue a career in computer software engineering.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was younger,” he said. “I decided on Loyola because it’s a great school. It’s an honor to go.”
A school scholarship he received will cover most of his tuition, and Fernandez said he also received a grant and TOPS and is continuing to apply for outside scholarships.
“I feel like my high school experience was very fulfilling,” he said. “It was fantastic. I got everything I wanted out of it … I made new friends and I felt challenged by the honors program and I felt like the environment at Destrehan was really supportive.”
Fernandez said he feels as though he learned a lot of life lessons through participating in extra-curricular activities.
“I got stuff I couldn’t get in classrooms,” he said. “From robotics I learned a lot about perseverance and dedication and through NHS I definitely was able to learn about community service. It’s always important to give back to the community.”
Fernandez said it’s easy to pinpoint what he’ll miss about DHS.
“I’ll definitely miss the teachers and the environment the most,” he said. “The teachers were so dynamic, and they made subjects I wouldn’t normally enjoy a lot more enjoyable. They played a big part in my educational growth.”
And for anyone about to start high school, Fernandez offers this advice.
“The best thing to do is just to be very focused on enjoying the years for what they are,” he said. “Be prepared to grow and change and don’t be afraid of change … you won’t be the same person at the end. I definitely changed a lot, and this was even before the pandemic. Not being afraid of change is very important to enjoying high school and making the most of it.”