BOSTON (CBS) – The valedictorians of every Boston Public high school were invited to lunch Tuesday with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

The event highlighted that the barriers some students faced rising to the top, went deeper than homework and grades.

Thirty-five of Boston’s brightest from every neighborhood and 11 different countries share a common bond.

Mayor Marty Walsh told the students “you represent power; you represent the promise of urban education here in our city and certainly our country.”

The valedictorians like Cristian Rodriguez of Dorchester have different backgrounds but share a drive to succeed.

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Cristian Rodriguez at valedictorian luncheon with Mayor Marty Walsh (WBZ-TV)

Rodriguez, an English High School senior, plans to study computer science when he attends college. Rodriguez came to America just four years ago from the Dominican Republic. He knew little English, but now is a straight-a student who actually helps tutor his peers.

“He has literally gone through the ranks from the sheltered English instruction class to actually running literacy classes,” remarks Xavier Rozas, an English High School teacher.

Coming to America, learning the language and excelling at school has not been easy. Rodriguez says he’s had difficulty because he did not know much English when he arrived to America.

Maybelline Perez Villatoro, an East Boston High School senior says that, “the communication barrier was hard and difficult.”

Villatoro’s family arrived in Boston seven years ago form El Salvador.

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Valedictorians from every Boston Public High School attend luncheon with Mayor Marty Walsh (WBZ-TV)

“I’ve been working ever since sixth grade. Because I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy,” says Villatoro.

Maybelline is now celebrating a full ride scholarship to Northeastern.

She says, “it is a feeling that you can’t explain. I just feel so proud!”

Both Rodriguez and Villatoro plan to use the opportunities given to them to create change in the world.

Rodriguez plans to go into diplomacy, and Villatoro wants to tackle health care, immigration and education.

Mayor Walsh told all of the students attending that they have the drive inside of them saying, “Take that drive and push that drive forward.”

More than half the valedictorians at Tuesday’s luncheon will be the first in their family to attend college.


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