make a gift
facebook page twitter profile instagram page search icon

SUA Proudly Introduces 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

Saint Ursula Academy is proud to introduce the Valedictorian and Salutatorian of the Class of 2020.

Ariel Yoshitomi-Gray of Wyoming, earned the top honor of Valedictorian for the Class of 2020. The Valedictorian Medal is awarded to the senior who has the highest GPA in the graduating class, as calculated at the end of Term 3 of the senior year. 

Maya Goertemoeller of Monfort Heights, earned the honor of Salutatorian. The Salutatorian Medal is awarded to the senior who has the second highest GPA in the graduating class, as calculated at the end of Term 3 of the senior year. 

Ariel Yoshitomi-Gray will attend the Queens University in Ontario, Canada and will study Honors Health Science. She says her favorite subject at Saint Ursula Academy was Math, especially Mrs. Depoe’s class. 

She shares Saint Ursula not only helped her develop study methods and skills that she is confident will help throughout university, but it also allowed her to build confidence in herself as a student and leader. 

“The teachers and staff do an amazing job of mentoring students and providing us with the right amount of support in order to help us be our best selves,” said Valedictorian Ariel Yoshitomi-Gray.

Her favorite part of learning? “It’s that moment when you grasp a certain concept that you once thought you would never be able to do. Sometimes you forget it, but then you get to have that moment all over again!”

Salutatorian Maya Goertemoeller will spend the next eight years at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She plans to spend the first four years getting a bachelor’s degree in Medical Sciences and the following four years getting her doctorate in medicine as part of the Connections program. She will also be in the University Honors Program and Turner Scholars Program and is considering adding a minor in Spanish. 

Her favorite subject at SUA? Science. “I have always loved science because I am fascinated by all of the complexities that make the world we know today work,” said Salutatorian Maya Goertemoeller. “This year, I took anatomy and physiology and loved getting to learn more about how the human body works. As a future medical professional, the plethora of science electives offered at Saint Ursula has really helped me to feel prepared for medical school.”

Goertemoeller added, “Going into freshman year, I was extremely shy and lacked confidence in my abilities. However, with the unconditional support of our amazing faculty, staff, and student community, I have totally transformed, not just as a student, but as a person. I have been given the tools to think critically and problem solve, analyze texts beyond the surface level, and participate in meaningful discussions. As Saint Ursula taught me how to be a leader in the classroom, I found myself becoming a leader outside the classroom as well. Saint Ursula has shaped me into a student who is able to voice her opinion while respecting those of others, work diligently to achieve academic success while still balancing my other interests, and solve problems that go beyond a mere math equation in the classroom.”

Both Ariel and Maya have achieved great success academically. When asked what advice they would share with other inspired students, here is what they shared.

Ariel Yoshitomi-Gray shared, “The one piece of advice I could give is that your mistakes and failures are just as, if not more important than your successes. I have learned so much more from the errors I have made along the way than I ever have from my achievements. I may not have been grateful for them in the moment, but I certainly am now.” 

Maya Goertemoeller added, “Corinthians 16:14 says to "let all that you do be done in love", and when I see these words displayed on my desk every day, it reminds me why I do what I do. If you want to succeed academically, or really in any area of life, I have realized that you have to find your "why". For me, my "why" in school is to take advantage of the opportunities I have been given because my mom worked so hard to build a better life for me. When you are truly passionate and understand the reasons for what you are doing, success is inevitable.”

“We are proud of these students and every member of the Class of 2020,” said Principal Dr. Mari Thomas. “These young women have not only shown hard work and resolve in their studies, but have shown great character and resilience in how they have handled the past few months during the COVID-19 crisis. We wish them all the best as they move to the next phase of their educational journey.”