Valedictorian Lexis Salters in the South End News
by Michele D. Maniscalco
Thursday Jul 26, 2012
This year, a lifelong South Ender, Lexis Salters of Methunion Manor on Columbus Avenue, delivered the valedictory speech at Cathedral High School’s graduation. Ranked number 1 in her class with a 4.5 grade-point average in her senior year and a 4.2 overall average in high school, Lexis was president of her chapter of the National Honor Society. The statuesque 18 year old also excelled in sports as captain of the girls’ basketball, softball and soccer teams in her senior year at Cathedral, winning MVP in softball in her junior year. In softball, Lexis played all outfield positions and every infield position except pitcher and catcher. "They tried putting me in as a pitcher once, and it was a disaster," Lexis laughed. Soft-spoken and modest, Lexis is proud of her South End roots. Asked about growing up in the South End, Lexis remarked, "It’s meant a lot to me. People respect each other here. You have the Gay Pride parade and people of different backgrounds. It’s a good environment to grow up in because there are good values here."
Lexis was accompanied to our interview by her sister, Raynise, a Community Liaison to City Councilor John Connolly who describes herself as "another mother" to Lexis and her twin, Winston. Raynise, who is 16 years older than Lexis and Winston, proudly pulled out her phone to display pictures of Lexis’s athletic and academic trophies, and initially notified the South End News that this year’s Cathedral valedictorian was a South End native. Raynise said with a smile, "When they were babies, I had to sneak out of the house because they would cry when I went toward the door. I’ve always taken them everywhere, and I’ve known all their friends since they were little." Lexis’s close-knit household consists of her mother, who works at Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Raynise and Winston. Lexis’s and Winston’s father "comes by every now and again and calls every day," Lexis explained. Lexis credits this strong foundation with helping her succeed, citing her mother as her main inspiration. "She always told me to keep trying and backed me in my decisions. I’ll be a role model to myself by pushing myself to do my best in everything I do." She also credits Ms. Fillion, a favorite teacher who also coached her in basketball and softball. "It’s more like a friendship between us now," Lexis said.
Initially drawn to forensic science as a major, Lexis’s teachers and friends helped steer her toward civil engineering. "I heard a professor at Northeastern University talking about building things in other countries, and I want to give back," Lexis said, clarifying her goal. During her years at Cathedral, Lexis served the community by volunteering at the Families First Day Care at 465 Columbus Avenue. "It wasn’t my favorite thing, but it’s an experience I’m glad I had." Lexis recalled. She was happier volunteering with 10-14 year olds at the Bird Street Community Center in Dorchester. "I got to coach basketball and helped with homework. I got to know the kids better because they could actually talk," Lexis said.
Lexis applied to 12 colleges and was accepted at 11, the exception being first choice, Harvard University, and was offered the maximum financial aid package available from all of the schools that accepted her. Her second choice was University of New Haven in Connecticut, which impressed her very much on her college visit. Unfortunately, the financial aid package offered left a $16,000 per year family contribution, which exceeds her family’s budget by about $7,000. For now, Lexis will attend U. Mass. Boston, and will consider whether to transfer in the future. "A lot of kids in my class are in the same predicament. A lot of them can’t even afford the $5,000 or $6,000 for U. Mass. Some who can afford it are going to Assumption College or someplace like that." Lexis is one of four recipients of this year’s Blackstone/Franklin Square Neighborhood Association (BFSNA) Book Scholarship. The award provides $1,000 to be used for books and supplies. She and the other three recipients were honored by BFSNA at a reception on Tuesday, July 10.
As a graduation present, Lexis’s mom treated the whole family to a trip south, including a stop in Baltimore to visit relatives and to Williamsburg for a few days at Busch Gardens and Water Country. The family’s stay in Williamsburg coincided with the recent, violent storms there, but Lexis was more enthralled than afraid. "We did get to see lightning strikes, hail and trees falling down," Lexis recalled. Raynise added that the family’s hotel did not lose power, as did so many in the area at that time, because it had a generator. "She had her nose pressed to the window, watching the storm," Raynise said with amusement.
Lexis is spending the summer as a full-time intern at Fidelity Investments as part of a program started by Fidelity executive and Cathedral High School board member Bob O’Neil. "It’s been a really good experience," Lexis says of her first three weeks in the seven-week program. "I get to do different things and learn a lot about the audit process, and I work with really nice people. We have a really nice view, too. We are right on the water, and the other day we got to see the tall ships sail away," Lexis said. In her spare time, she plans to sleep, spend time with her friends and play a little basketball. Whatever path Lexis’s future takes, it will likely be driven by the strong values and work ethic instilled by her supportive family and the South End community.
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