Faith, love accompany SCHS valedictorian in life’s journey

Carlynn Rodriguez, Sussex Central High School’s Class of 2018 valedictorian.

GEORGETOWN – Wherever Carlynn Rodriguez goes in life and whatever she does, rest assured it will be filled with faith and love.

Her message as valedictorian to fellow Sussex Central High School Class of 2018 graduates May 30 had a recurring theme: “Simply be kind to one another. And yes, hold onto memories, but don’t forget to love one another.”

Carlynn, now 18, and her family – mom, dad and older sister, who graduated from high school in 2013 – reside in Georgetown.

Her older sister did not make it to college.

“When it came time for college for her, we were still lost for everything. She didn’t end up going to college. I knew that I wanted to continue my education,” said Carlynn. “So, I knew the only way I would have an opportunity to do so was if I like tried really, really hard in school.”

But it wasn’t easy.

And standing at the podium as class valedictorian was not even in the picture as she began her high school career at Sussex Central.

“Honestly, I didn’t anticipate on being valedictorian my freshman year,” Carlynn recalls. “I remember I ranked 23rd. I remember I came home and balled my eyes out, saying that is a terrible number. So, I wanted to be in the Top 10 but didn’t really want to be valedictorian.”

“Then, in my sophomore year I was thinking, ‘You know what – I am going to do my best and I’ll be in the Top 10.’ Then I ended up moving 20 ranks and ended up third that year. I just tried my best every year after that. And I ended up being valedictorian! “said Carlynn.

In late April, Carlynn was honored by Delaware Department of Education Secretary Dr. Susan Bunting as one of the 2018 Secretary of Education Scholars.

Initially, Carlynn’s college dream was to attend Cornell University, a prestigious Ivy League school in Ithaca overlooking scenic Cayuga Lake in central New York state.

Instead, she’s off to the state of Illinois and Olivet Nazarene University, a Christian liberal arts university located in Bourbonnais. “It is an hour outside of Chicago,” said Carlynn.

At SCHS, she tackled the International Baccalaureate program, which she found immensely challenging.

“I don’t think rigorous even begins to describe it,” she said. “It is crazy!”

She has held a part-time job but not the entire year.

“I never worked during the school year. During the summer, going into my junior year I worked at Candy Kitchen. I also worked at Candy Kitchen for a little while last year. I’m taking this summer off, after International Baccalaureate – definitely!”

In this week’s People to Know spotlight, Carlynn Rodriguez – Sussex Central High Schools 2018 valedictorian.

Your choice of Olivet Nazarene?

“I think I applied to a total of 14 colleges. My dream school was Cornell University. But then I think when March came by, I ended up being ‘wait-listed.’ I knew that chances of being admitted off the wait list were really low, so I kind of gave up on that. So, I started looking at my other college options. Olivet, I think is the only school I was still interested in that it had a marching band, and that gave me money for being in the marching band. I try my best to be involved with my church and everything. So, the fact they were Christian-affiliated was definitely, ‘I am going there.”

What will pursuit academically?

“I actually applied to Olivet as a math major. But I recently switched my major because I did not want to do math at all. So, I switched my major to a general Spanish major. I plan on double majoring in Spanish and social work, and then possibly minoring in psychology.”

What do you see in your crystal ball?

“Workwise, career-wise, I am not sure yet. I just kind of rely on the Lord to lead me wherever I belong. I do intend on living my life in way where I want to be an influence on people. So, I definitely want to have some type of platform, where I can reach out and help people.”

Extra-curricular involvement at SCHS?

“I do not do sports. I am in National Honor Society. I tried doing Math League my junior year … but because of International Baccalaureate I only went to one meeting and didn’t really have time. Other than I’ve been involved in the concert band and the marching band, heavily.”

Your music passion?

“I love music. For concert band I played flute. For marching band, I do piccolo. I also take piano lessons and played guitar and a little bit of saxophone.”

Your fondest memories at Sussex Central?

“My favorite memories are always with the marching band. I love the marching band so much. Every year we go to the Selbyville Halloween Parade so every year we get to dress up. This past year – my favorite animals, I love pugs and I love deer – so I ended up dressing up as a deer. And my friend, whose name is Hunter, ended up dressing like a hunter. It was fun!”

Is there anything you would change?

“The only thing I can think of is I feel like the students here are so segregated in regard to what classes they take. Like AP students only hang out with AP, and IB with IB. It would be nice to see that change.”

Leisure time: What do you do?

“I do like watching TV and movies. But when I do have free time I usually focus on like studying and reading my Bible and keeping up with my Bible studies.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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