DHS student who is National Merit Finalist advances in Student of the Year competition

Even before he arrived at Destrehan High School, Sean Baltazar was driven.

He knew he wanted to reach a four-year university and he knew that wouldn’t be easily affordable: it would take a tremendous amount of hard work and he planned to carry that out and make his hopes a reality.

Baltazar is going to reach that milestone – and all of the work he’s done along the way of his journey has added up to some tremendous accomplishments. The most recent of which saw the Destrehan High School senior named finalist for Louisiana’s Region II 12th grade Student of the Year. Finalists will convene at the River Center Branch Library in Baton Rouge on April 10 for an awards ceremony where the Louisiana Students of the Year winners will be announced.

Baltazar, Thanuja Parasuraman of St. Rose Elementary School and Isabella LeBlanc of R.K. Smith Middle School were named the 2023 St. Charles Parish Students of the Year, with each student advancing to the regional contest.

Baltazar emerged as one of the final 12th grade contenders. To be selected as a student of the year, a student must earn a cumulative 3.1 GPA and be in grade 5, 8, or 12. All students of the year must compile a portfolio, write a biographical sketch, and be interviewed by a Student Achievement Committee.

Baltazar has achieved a cumulative GPA of 4.3774 and a score of 34 on the ACT. He is a team captain of the Wildcats highly successful robotics team and helped the program reach the World Championships. He’s been a part of numerous clubs at Destrehan and is also a regular volunteer in the community.

“It’s been a very pleasant surprise to keep advancing,” Baltazar said. “I think I’ve definitely put in a lot of hard work and it’s nice to represent Destrehan High at these levels. I hope I can go all the way, but even if not, it’s been a great experience. Everyone’s been so supportive and proud and it definitely feels nice to have that.”

Baltazar said his tentative plans – “about 90 percent,” he quipped – are to attend the University of Alabama to study electrical engineering. The school offered a strong scholarship opportunity – exactly what Baltazar entered high school committed to earning – following his recent selection as a National Merit Finalist, and he said it feels like a perfect fit.

“The campus is beautiful and there are a lot of opportunities there, a lot of internships available, work study, and it’s only four hours away. That’s not exactly cross country … all of it’s made me excited to go.”

At Destrehan, he is a part of the inaugural Spanish Culture Club, the National Honor Society and the National English Honor Society, the latter he serves as secretary of the Destrehan chapter.

He has also served as a camp counselor for various STEM outreach programs, passing on his knowledge to younger students in the community, as well as volunteering with Laron Byrd’s More than Athletics organization.

All of that is important to Baltazar as these are the kinds of camps and activities that sparked his interest in STEM, robotics and, ultimately, engineering for a potential career path. He wants the next generation and those thereafter to always have those same opportunities.

“I remember attending a (robotics) competition in Kenner in 2017, and I was able to go behind the scenes to talk to the team members and watch the game … I thought it was great and that I’d like to do this too one day,” he said. “When you have a talent and you have the resources available, I think it’s incumbent to use that for good. As much fun as winning is, building the robot and being part of the team, I also really enjoy helping the next generation.”

He’s served as a mentor with Norco Elementary School’s robotics team, helping to get the team members ready for their competition.

“I received all of these opportunities as a younger person. As a fourth grader, I went to STEM camps hosted by Wildcat Robotics, the same team I’m a part of as captain now,” he said. “I had all of these outreach events I could go to, and it cemented for me that I wanted to do this when I got older. And that’s why I want to mentor.”


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