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Mount Vernon STEAM Academy Senior Martinez Jean Claude Named Salutatorian, Headed to Emory University

The Mount Vernon City School District announced that senior Martinez Jean Claude has been named the salutatorian for the STEAM Academy Class of 2021 graduating class.

Jean Claude had an array of choices for college as he was accepted to Hartford University, Manhattan College, SUNY College at Potsdam, and the University at Buffalo. Ultimately, he said he went with his heart and the choice that had intrigued him since he was a child: Emory University in Atlanta to major in Biology.

“It’s always been one of my top schools. My dream school,” Jean Claude said. “I thought about whether I should stay close to home or go far away. I talked to my parents and asked what I should do and they left it to me. They said, ‘You are now of the age and of the time that you can’t come to us and expect us to give you the answers.’”

At the STEAM Academy he was the 2020 My Brother’s Keeper Fellow. My Brother’s Keeper is a state program that provides high school junior boys of color with opportunities to gain authentic leadership experiences and develop service projects beneficial to the schools they attend and the communities they live in.

He was also part of the Lehman College PCOPP, or Pipeline to College Partnership Program, as well as Great Potential Liberty Partnerships Program, which is committed to serving 330 middle and high school students in four school districts in Westchester County. The program provides students with critical thinking and study skills.

“Martinez has come so far and accomplished so much since he was a freshman,” Mount Vernon City School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton said. “I am so excited for his future and looking forward to watching him grow from afar at Emory University.”

“I got the experience of a lifetime in high school,” Jean Claude said. “Stressful, yes, but I think that’s every person’s high school experience. But I made the best of friends I know I will keep for a lifetime and I achieved some pretty great accomplishments.”

Jean Claude said it was the school itself and its teachers that put him at ease.

“The first day … really nervous. You worry about who you’re going to become friends with, what kind of classes you have, whether every grade counts,” he said. “And you think about, who am I? Who am I about to become? What is my next step? I was a shy student and now I feel like I’m outgoing and accomplished.”

Now, he is ready to step up to Emory.

“I love science. I mean, I love science,” Jean Claude said. “It’s my passion. I’ve always been good at it. And, hopefully, after that, medical school.”