The Board of Education honored Aubrey Paris last evening with an official resolution in order to commemorate her amazing accomplishments at Ursinus College, University of California at Berkeley, as a Fellow of the Center for Science for the Common Good, as an accepted member of the National Science Foundation as a Fellow in a doctoral Program at Princeton University and, most importantly, as a distinguished alumna of Delran High School Class of 2011. As the Board of Education has evolved they have committed to honoring the recognition of all of our students as well as our distinguished alumni. Below are Aubrey’s comments to the staff, students and parents of Delran Township Public Schools:
Good evening, everyone. I am truly honored to be with you tonight as the Delran Board of Education recognizes some of the youngest and brightest talent in the district. Four years ago, I was sitting right where you’re sitting, only it was fifth period and I was having one of my last lunches as a DHS senior. So I should probably tell you a bit about myself. My name is Aubrey Paris and I graduated from Delran High School in 2011. Last month, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Ursinus College in Pennsylvania with my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology, a French minor, and both Chemistry and cross-campus Honors. In September I will begin my pursuit of a Chemistry Ph.D. at Princeton University, where I will study carbon dioxide transformation strategies with the support of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. During my four years as an undergraduate I became an entrepreneur, a Senior Fellow of a global policy institute, and a summer researcher at the University of California Berkeley. But none of what I have done, or what I will do, has been possible without the people I met and the experiences I had right here in our Delran schools.
Ever since I was little, my teachers have comprised a very significant group of people that have influenced me both as a student and as a person. I remember having Mr. Parente for sixth grade science at DMS and being introduced to science fair for the first time. To tell you the truth, it was because of Mr. Parente that I began exploring science academically. Fast forward three years and I meet Mr. Petitte here at DHS…He would be the first and eventually the last science teacher I’d have in the high school, and he was the reason I went to college looking to major in Biology. I had Mr. Smith for chemistry, Mr. Fiordimondo for electives like forensic science, and Mr. Romanik for physics and as my bowling coach. And during every break from college I’ve come back to visit them and to listen to how things have progressed here, including the establishment of a new science wing and the construction of a greenhouse for hands-on learning. But it’s not just about the science, of course. Ms. DiCesare in art, Madame Khair for French, Mr. Guzik in math…they were all influential and helped to shape my academic trajectory. So, when I left for Ursinus College in 2011, I hoped to find professors who would be as influential as those teachers I left behind in Delran. And I found them.
So why am I telling you this? Why is it important for you? After all, you have plenty of years ahead of you here in Delran before you even think of what you might do after graduation. Well, I’m telling you my story because that story started right here where you’re sitting. It was during my time as a Delran student that I began taking advantage of opportunities—competing in science fairs, joining clubs, playing sports, and, perhaps most importantly, learning from fantastic teachers and role models…These are the same opportunities that led me to where I am currently. But teachers can’t force students to take advantage of opportunities—I get that—especially if it means adding work to an already-busy schedule. So what do teachers do? (PAUSE) Teachers recognize students’ interests and encourage them to pursue those interests. That’s what makes students willing to take on the responsibilities associated with striving beyond school or state requirements and to explore whatever it is that fascinates them. For me, it’s science policy and alternative energy. What will it be for you?
To the students here, including my cousin John, congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished so far. You should be extremely proud of yourselves, as I know both your parents and the Board of Education are. But so are your teachers, and I sincerely encourage you to take advantage of them as mentors and guides as you continue to succeed in your academic and athletic pursuits. Keep up the great work, and I guarantee you’ll have many more celebratory events like this one to attend in the future. Thank you.