They were at the top of their respective classes just a few short months ago: the 2012 valedictorians. In June, they gave speeches and basked in the celebration of their high school accomplishments. Today, we celebrate these young scholars as they head off to college. Their words, as the passages below show, are hopeful and confident, like our young men and women should be as they enter the cusp of adulthood. One wants to be an economist; another a museum curator; a third actuary and one a doctor. These young Prince George’s men and women are just several examples of the thousands of emerging county residents ready to make an impact on the world.

Ruth Petit-Homme (Tracy A. Woodward/THE WASHINGTON POST)

I have aspirations to become an obstetrician/gynecologist. I feel like that’s what I need to do. Ever since I was 7. Especially after I heard that D.C. is the highest in HIV/AIDS rates. Maybe I can help lower that by opening clinics. If we’re talking 10 years from now instead of five, I’ll hopefully branch out to Haiti, where I’m from, or Africa. Places that need clinics, and I can work with people to make things cheaper for people.

If you can help or give advice to somebody, especially in the D.C. region where HIV/AIDS rates have spiked, maybe that talk would turn into an action. And that action will turn into another talk and another talk and the word spreads and hopefully that would help lower the rate.

Without having a goal, a dream, a set destination, you’re pretty much lost. I know a lot of people who wanted to be a certain thing but followed the wrong crowd and just wanted to fit in. In today’s society, a lot of young females, and a lot of young kids in general, we like to follow the crowd. We don’t like to be ourselves, because if we are ourselves, we get ridiculed for it.

Ruth Petit-Homme graduated from Parkdale High School and will attend the University of Maryland, where she plans to take pre-med courses (biology major).

— Interview by Carla Broyles

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