a group of people standing next to each other
In her commencement address, Marathon High School valedictorian Marquisha Abraham heaped heavy praise on her Haitian immigrant parents Martine, left, and Gerson. CONTRIBUTED

Senior Marquisha Abraham’s graduation speech, while reflecting upon the past four years at Marathon High School, also focused upon Abraham’s unique upbringing. She grew up as the daughter of Haitian immigrants who came to America in the hopes of a better life. Now college-bound, Marquisha has graduated with valedictorian honors after four years of hard work and perseverance.

“(My parents) always hoped that in leaving Haiti and coming to America, their kids would become something and do great things,” said Marquisha. “I guess they’re watching what my sister and I are doing and thinking that, ‘Dang, we came here for the right reasons and look at what’s happened to us.’”

After graduation, the Keys Weekly caught up with Marquisha to learn more about her future plans and reflect on her high school career.

Where will you be attending college and what will you study? I’m attending the University of Florida to study business administration on a pre-law track.

What will you miss most about high school? How would you describe your experience? Many people say they don’t like their high school experience or high school in general. I loved mine. I enjoyed all the sports. Weightlifting, volleyball, tennis – I will definitely miss all of those. 

I was born and raised in Marathon, (and) I will definitely miss going to that little school. I knew everywhere, all the nooks and crannies, so it’s definitely a familiar place for me, and I will 100% miss everything about that school.

What difficulties and challenges have you faced over the past four years? Getting my first B in A.P. biology was definitely a critical moment for me because up until then I had never had a B. So, for me to get a B in that class, knowing that I was in the running to be valedictorian or salutatorian, or just in the top percentage of my class, felt heart-wrenching. Balancing the day-to-day of being a high school student, whether it was academics, socially keeping up with my friends, or all of the many clubs and sports that I was in, was definitely a bit of a challenge.

How did you work through them? For the A.P. bio portion, that first B was a reality check, and I really had to just focus and find time in my busy schedule to study and put in time for that. To balance my social life and academic life I just had to find the best way that I could organize my time.

Besides yourself, to whom do you attribute your success? 100% my parents, my family and my sister. They’re all very critical for my academics. Yes, it might be me mentally, but they’re there for me emotionally. They’re my rock. They’re people I rant to and talk to about anything, and they just make me feel better.

My weightlifting coaches, Ms. Jane and Mr. Schubert, were also very helpful for me throughout my high school journey. Not only were they my coaches and my teachers, but they felt like people who I could confide in. They just made the high school experience better for me.

How have you changed over the past few years? I feel like I’ve definitely matured. I’ve learned a lot within the last four years. From earning my first B to trying weightlifting as a new sport in ninth grade, I’ve learned how to talk to people and more about math, science, history and all of that. But I feel like I’ve learned more about myself as well. It’s been four years of me evolving, learning and growing.

What message would you want to give incoming students? Enjoy it and live it. There’s literally nothing to do but be involved. If you don’t make the most of your high school experience, then it really won’t be a high school experience. Join those clubs that you might not have wanted to join in the beginning, but find out you love. Join a new sport, do something to make you feel like you’re part of a community within the community.

Zack Woltanski
Zack Woltanski is a Coral Shores grad and aspiring novelist. After three years of high school and a gap year in Germany, he will be studying at Brown University, with a potential major in english or philosophy.