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Pascagoula
August 19, 2019
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Community Education Featured Slider Jackson County

First Hispanic Valedictorian from Gautier High School gets full ride to MIT

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Francisco Arellano knew he wanted to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since reading a book in the seventh grade where the lead character was trying to get into the school. The character was a good person and very intelligent, and Arellano made it his mission to pursue this dream back then.

When the time came to look at colleges, he realized MIT was the greatest technical school in the country, and he set his mind even further on doing what needed to be done to get accepted. He decided that if he got accepted, he would attend the school.

“If I can get there, there isn’t much I can’t do,” said the high school senior, who made a 35 on the ACT and is Gautier High School’s first Hispanic valedictorian.

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He accomplished what he set out to do and got accepted to the Massachusetts school while also receiving a full need-based scholarship to attend. Now, the Gautier native, who hasn’t traveled out of the South before will head to Cambridge in the fall to study engineering. He thinks this will be his biggest challenge – the shift in culture.

He’s had a few moments of doubt about attending school so far away but said that he has relied on conversations with school staff to help him figure everything out. He said that these conversations helped him remember “all the reasons I wanted to go in the first place.”

Arellano, who was also involved in the band program at GHS, plans to initially major in mechanical engineering, but the first two years of core classes are the same for all, so he can decide down the road if he wants to change. He said that he is also interested in nuclear engineering and aerospace engineering.

Wayne Rodolfich, superintendent of the Pascagoula-Gautier School District, said that this opportunity is like hitting the lottery for someone Arellano’s age, and he’s confident that he will succeed there.

“He’s a young man that has the ability to see the opportunity through,” Rodolfich said. “We’re just super proud of him. He’s come a long way and made a great impact on that high school.”

GHS Guidance Counselor Paulette Edwards agreed: “MIT is going to give him the world where a Southern college is going to give him the South. It’s where the world’s geniuses come to study. He’s going to do great.”

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