The graduating class of 2020 will go down in history as having one of the most unusual passages into adulthood in the modern era. So many members of St. Michael-Albertville High School’s 2020 graduating class will, no doubt, go on to make positive marks on this world, but two dynamic ladies shine especially bright: Valedictorian Ashley Peters and Salutatorian Indigo Rowland.
Ashley Peters is the daughter of two parents who immigrated to America from Guyana, in South America, and she said that global perspective, paired with a supportive family, led her to dream big.
“Their only dream for me was to have a great education, and I kind of held on to that: that I was one of those people who had this amazing opportunity, and I could finally do something to make a difference in this world,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in the medical field, and I thought if I kept my aspirations high, that someday I’d be able to be one of those big people that can do momentous things, to help people in my community and even beyond my community, in impoverished communities and other places around the world.”
To that end, Peters has her sights set on a future as a cardiothoracic surgeon. She will head to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities this fall for a pre-medicine undergraduate degree in human physiology. After that, she plans to apply to the U of M’s medical school, then go on to specialize in cardiothoracic surgery.
“I love Minnesota, and I know the University of Minnesota has a ton of different research opportunities,” she said. “I’d love to be a part of that.”
High School Highlights
Peters said the sense of school community has been a highlight of her high school career, especially her involvement with the National Honor Society. She said she loved being part of events where she could see a direct benefit to the larger community, such as blood drives, food drives, and roadside clean-ups.
“I could directly see the impact we were making,” she said. “It was definitely something that kept me going in high school.”
Peters said the twist ending to senior year was definitely unexpected, but she said it’s allowed her to focus more time on things she is passionate about, like creative writing, learning to play the piano, singing, and writing songs.
“It really made me realize that, no matter what comes up in life, I can still keep my eyes on my goals and inspirations.”
Indigo Rowland has been a STMA Knight all the way through, from her kindergarten experience in Mrs. Ryan’s room to the top of her graduating class in 2020.
Rowland admitted that the strange ending to senior year has taken some getting used to, and she has been sad to miss all the milestone events like prom and graduation festivities. That said, she said the experience has made her appreciate all the things the school has done to make the best of the situation.
“I really appreciate everything that goes into that, and all the planning,” she said.
Rowland plans to attend Hamline University in St. Paul this fall, where she will major in biology with a certificate in forensic science. Ultimately, she’d like to work in a forensic lab as either a serologist or a fingerprint analyst.
High School Highlights
Rowland said her focus and drive to succeed have helped her persevere over challenges while growing up.
“I’ve always held myself to a high standard,” she said.
She said she especially enjoyed all the courses she took in the high school’s social studies and English departments, where she made some strong connections with staff.
“It’s been so incredibly valuable and rewarding to have those connections,” she said. “I loved being able to just talk to those teachers.”
Outside of academics, Rowland said her experience on the high school swim team has been a highlight of her high school experience, building relationships with teammates and honing time management skills.
Advice for the Incoming Class
When asked what advice they’d give to the high school freshmen who will (we hope) file into STMA High School classrooms for the first time this fall, Peters said she’d encourage students to find something they are passionate about, and let that passion drive them through their high school years.
Rowland said she’d encourage next fall’s freshmen to get to know their teachers and make connections. Also, she’d encourage students to make time management a priority right from the start.
“The earlier you can learn time management skills, the easier your life will be,” she said.