City salutes 36 top students at Valedictorian luncheon

The city of Boston’s 36 valedictorians— half of whom live in or have studied in Dorchester or Mattapan—were honored at a luncheon event last Thursday, May 31 at the Boston Harbor Hotel. The event featured speeches by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto, and BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang, and was emceed by WGBH television and radio host and commentator Callie Crossley.
Tyler Luong, a Dorchester resident and graduate of Boston Arts Academy, provided the valedictorian’s address.

“Do you want to become a leader after you’ve claimed the top as your own, to know that you’ll be moving forward while others fail and stay behind? Or do you want to lead your peers to the top, make sure that no one gets left behind?” Luong asked his fellow valedictorians. “This label that we’ve all worked so hard for shows that we are capable of becoming future leaders of our world. So the next time we’re expected to climb a tree, let’s do it together.”

The BPS Valedictorians Luncheon was first held at the Parkman House in 1999 and has since grown to a larger venue that can include BPS families, staff, and partners from Boston’s higher education, business, and philanthropic communities.

The Boston Foundation, Eastern Bank, Shah Family Foundation, and Steward Health Care were the major sponsors of the ceremony, with proceeds benefiting the City of Boston Scholarship Fund.

The biographies for those valedictorians who currently live or have studied in Dorchester or Mattapan follow.


Boston Arts Academy
Tyler Luong of Dorchester

Tyler was born and raised in Boston and has spent his entire academic career in the Boston Public Schools. He is a talented pianist whose passion for the arts has served him well as the top student at Boston Arts Academy. Both of Tyler’s sisters are alums of BAA, and his sister Luna was BAA’s valedictorian in 2014. Tyler has earned a Posse Scholarship to Bucknell University.

Boston Community Leadership Academy
Bismary Taveras Rosario of Dorchester

Bismary emigrated from the Dominican Republic just two years before arriving at BCLA. Bismary persevered and has since earned a proficiency level of 5.1 out of 6 on the state English Language Proficiency test. She enjoys tennis, volleyball, and dance, and is an avid reader. Bismary’s hard work and determination has earned her a full scholarship to Northeastern University.

Boston Day and Evening Academy
Tania Feliz of Dorchester

Tania struggled at her previous high school before finding a home at BDEA, where she graduated last April with a perfect 4.0 GPA! Last year, she participated in an internship at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and will do so again this coming summer. This fall, she will study molecular biology at Bryn Mawr College, where she has earned a Posse Scholarship.

Boston Green Academy
Aleksandr Gritsinin of Dorchester

Alex emigrated from Uzbekistan in 2015 with a minimal understanding of English. After spending a year in UMass Boston’s intensive ESL program, Alex enrolled at Boston Green Academy and has become an integral part of the BGA community. He was a driving force behind the BGA community garden, which ultimately earned him the BIDMC Environmental Champion Student Award. Alex will attend Northeastern University and plans to pursue a career in environmental sustainability.

Jeremiah E. Burke High School
Mahamud Yusuf of Roxbury

Mahamud was born is Somalia and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was just 7 months old. Mahamud found learning English as a second language extremely difficult, but through hard work, he learned to read, speak, and write English by the second grade. Mahamud plans to major in business management when he attends Bentley University this fall. His long-term goal is to start his own business.

Charlestown High School
Sydney Bussiere of Dorchester

Born and raised in New York, Sydney has earned high honors during her three years at Charlestown High. She is a recipient of the Dartmouth Book Award and has completed courses at Wheelock College through the Noonan Scholars program. Sydney’s teachers describe her as a powerhouse ready to change the world with her passion for social justice. Sydney has earned a full academic scholarship to Bowdoin College in Maine.

Community Academy of Science and Health
Aleida Aldana of East Boston

The child of El Salvadoran immigrants, Aleida has spent her entire academic career in the Boston Public Schools. In addition to her dedication to her studies, she is a committed member of the Build On service learning program, and the One Goal Program. Aleida is a proud recipient of the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. She will attend UMass Amherst.

Dearborn STEM Academy
Mario Lopes of Dorchester

Mario moved to Boston from Cape Verde in middle school. His teachers describe Mario Lopes as a humble, family oriented young man who is always smiling and helping his classmates. His passions are math, computer science, and soccer. He will attend UMass Dartmouth this fall.

Dorchester Academy
Brandon Siah of Boston

Brandon has been a shining star at Dorchester Academy. His teachers describe him as a role model who consistently puts forth true spirit of caring and motivation to help others. They also say his smile can light up a room. Brandon is already a student at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, where he is the first person in his family to attend college.

Excel High School
Vy Tran of Dorchester

Driven and unassuming, with a thirst for knowledge, Vy is a self-motivated, confident, and competent young lady. Last year, she led her JROTC Academic JV Squad to a first-place finish in her Boston citywide scholastic competition. Vy has also earned a full scholarship to Northeastern University, where she plans to study science or medicine.

Greater Egleston Community High School
Kaysia Robert of Dorchester

Raised by a single mother, Kaysia was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension when she was 8 years old. Kaysia was determined not to let her illness slow her down, and she successfully completed high school in just three years. Her ultimate plans are to either become a neonatal nurse practitioner or an elementary school teacher. Her next stop is Bunker Hill Community College.

Henderson K-12 Inclusion School
Kanbe Mao of Roxbury

Raised by his single father, Kanbe has lived his entire life beating expectations. At the Henderson, Kanbe gained a prominent reputation among faculty and students alike where he served as a co-captain of the Debate Team, played intramural sports, was a member of the Travel Writing Club, won a city wide art contest, and served as the president of Strong Men, Strong Leaders, a character building organization for young men of color. Kanbe is the Henderson School’s first Posse Scholar, and will attend Centre College in the fall, where he plans to study nursing.

Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
Carlia Dabel of Dorchester

Carlia is a bright young woman with a passion for science. She has been a part of Crimson Summer Academy for 4 years. While part of the Vertex Science Fair Mentorship Program, her team designed a pair of glasses that would accurately measure the dimensions of someone’s face to give them a better fitting pair of glasses. Carlia has earned a full scholarship to Northeastern University, where she plans to study biomedical engineering.

Madison Park Technical Vocational High School
Ardo Ali of Dorchester

Ardo has excelled as a radio and television broadcasting student at the city’s only technical vocational school. She enjoys visual media production, where she can harness the power of storytelling to bring about social and economic change. Ardo has earned 18 college credits through RoxMapp, a program that ensures that all students have the support, experience, and preparation needed to access a high-demand career and post-secondary pathway. Ardo will attend Bucknell University as a Posse Scholar, where she plans to pursue a degree in international relations and business.

McKinley Preparatory High School
Maryssa Liao of Dorchester

Maryssa is a scholar, an athlete, and an artist. She is an avid runner who has been involved in the Sole Train therapeutic running group. She has also worked with Skanska Construction on the joint mural project between Skanska and the McKinley. This triple threat is headed to Bunker Hill Community College.

John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science
Uyen Chu of Dorchester

Uyen immigrated to the US with her family from Vietnam in 2008. At the O’Bryant, she serves as the president at her school recycling club while juggling a challenging an array of AP courses. She is also an active member of her Vietnamese community, where she volunteers and translates every weekend at her local food pantry. The first in her family to go to college, she will be attending Tufts University with a full scholarship.

Muriel S. Snowden International School at Copley
Kathryn Oliver of Dorchester

Kathryn is an avid rower who has spent the last 4 years participating in Row Boston, a rowing program available to all BPS students. She also took advantage of Snowden’s International Baccalaureate Program, and is slated to receive her IB Diploma this summer. Lucky for us, Kathryn isn’t going far. She has earned a full scholarship to Northeastern University.

TechBoston Academy
Alisha Vernet of Mattapan

Born in Haiti, Alisha came to the US when she was 3 and attended the Chittick for Elementary School. She says she just always knew that working hard will allow her to get very far. At TechBoston, she is involved in student government and athletics and is a known leader throughout the building. Alisha has an amazingly positive attitude and a permanent smile on her face. Alisha will study at Northeastern University.