You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Making the grade: A young woman’s journey to the top of her class


MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Lissett Paniagua, 18

Moving to a new country and having to learn a new language along with facing academic obstacles led Pahokee High School valedictorian Lissett Paniagua to a resolve of striving for success that landed her at the top of the graduating class of 2017. She said one of the biggest challenges she’s dealt with so far is being a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student. “I came into this country when I was 3 years old. I broke my hand and my parents didn’t have enough money to cover the costs,” she said. “So they immigrated to the United States from Mexico and I’ve been living here ever since.”

Paniagua said that the transition has been a struggle from the beginning because learning English was difficult and applying for scholarships is a challenge because she is considered an international student. “For most scholarships, you have to be a U.S. citizen or resident to apply,” she said. “Although I am here legally, I qualify as an international student.”

Paniagua said she has enjoyed learning for as long as she can remember but faced obstacles her freshman year in high school that almost derailed her academic career. “Since I was a little girl, I’ve always liked school, but freshman year I attended Glades Central and it was a new school and I was going through some problems. So my grades weren’t good,” she said. “They dropped. My GPA was very low and so my sophomore year I realized I had to do something to bring it back up.”

Paniagua, 18, said that she knew she wanted to go to college and she would need scholarships to be able to go to college and that was her motivation to try harder. “I started taking classes at Palm Beach State College (where she dual-enrolled and will earn 42 college credits upon graduating high school) and I got into the IB program,” she said. “It was a lot of work and I had to take night classes, but I had that goal in mind to bring my GPA up.”

In addition, Paniagua is involved in a number of extracurricular activities including the Spanish Honors Society, the Interact Club (featuring community involvement and improvement) and the Dreamcatcher’s Club. “With the Dreamcatchers Club, we go to the nursing homes and whatever wishes they have (we try to make them happen),” she said. “If they wanted to have a party, we have a party. We did a senior prom for them. Whatever they want, we grant their wishes.”

Paniagua said she wants to attend Florida State University in Tallahassee to major in education and come back to teach the kids in her community within the Glades area.

She said her biggest achievement was striving to improve her grades and successfully obtaining that goal.

Paniagua said her advice to other students is to always believe in themselves. “I learned to love to learn,” she said. “Sometimes you might not think you have the potential to do it or you just might want to give up but there’s always a way.”

Paniagua resides in Belle Glade with her parents Maria and Bulmaro Paniagua and younger brother Christian, 13.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

BREAKING: Diver working on private boat dies in North Palm Beach
BREAKING: Diver working on private boat dies in North Palm Beach

A male diver died Tuesday afternoon while working on a boat near Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Divers were working on a privately owned boat when the accident occurred. One person, a male, died according to FWC spokeswoman Carol Lyn Parrish. The victim’s identification...
NEW: Boca Raton police, bomb squad investigate package
NEW: Boca Raton police, bomb squad investigate package

Police are investigating a suspicious package in Boca Raton Tuesday afternoon. Officer were called to 7171 North Federal Highway, just north of Yamato Road, to a package at the business. At this time, Federal is blocked off between west Hidden Valley Boulevard and Northeast 70th Street. The bomb squad is also at the scene. Police ask drivers to stay...
19-year-old shoots, kills man trying to break into apartment
19-year-old shoots, kills man trying to break into apartment

Police said a teenager shot and killed a man Monday as he attempted to break into the teen’s apartment in DeKalb County, Georgia.  The 19-year-old told police he heard someone banging on the door of his apartment and trying to kick it in.  He grabbed a gun and shot through the door, authorities said.  Police found the intruder...
UPDATE: One person fatally hit by train south of Lake Worth
UPDATE: One person fatally hit by train south of Lake Worth

Update, 5:30 p.m.: The person hit by the train south of Lake Worth is dead, according to fire rescue. Original Story: A person was hit by a train south of Lake Worth, according to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. Crews were called to the tracks just south of 6th Avenue South near Federal Highway where an unidentified individual was hit...
NEW: Gas leak prompts evacuation of Lantana plaza
NEW: Gas leak prompts evacuation of Lantana plaza

A gas leak near a Lantana restaurant prompted the evacuation of a shopping plaza Tuesday afternoon. The incident happened at about 1:30 p.m. in the 100 block of South Third Street, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue reported. The leak was caused when a car accidentally struck a gas line in the back of the restaurant, said Capt. Albert Borroto, spokesman...
More Stories