From high school to college: a reflection — and an open thank-you note

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High school is over and my college journey is about to begin. It fills me with sadness and with a lot of emotion at the same time — knowing that I will no longer be going back to high school, that I will no longer be able to live with my parents, and that I am about to find a new world is overwhelming.

We always hear people say that “time flies by” and although its meaning is not literal, it is something that is really true. I remember the first day of school as if it were yesterday. I arrived at Jordan-Matthews High School, and it was the second semester of the 9th grade. It was one of the most stressful and uncertain days I have ever experienced.

Although I was born in Houston, Texas, I lived most of my life in Chiquimula, Guatemala. I knew very little English when I moved to J-M; everything around me was new and unknown. Being in a new country and not knowing the language is stressful, but with time, a lot of effort, dedication, and faith, I completely conquered the language.

In these four years of high school, I did everything possible to give my best and contribute to my school and community. I had the opportunity to do a lot of community service and create my water bottle recycling project at school. Every Friday, I would go to the halls and classes collecting all the plastic bottles. At the end of the day, I would drop them off in a  large container for the recycling company to take them away. I was a tutor and mentor. I was a translator at my church Faith Family Ministries, among other things. All these experiences turned school into an adventure.

My first three years of school were something like this “homework, tests, and projects” over and over again. COVID-19 changed absolutely everything except the “homework, tests, and projects.” That stayed the same. In the blink of an eye, the last year of school arrived and that routine did change. It became “homework, exams, projects, applying to colleges, applying for scholarships.” The months I applied to colleges were stressful, overwhelming, and tiring months, but it’s all worth it. I was able to finish high school with good grades, was accepted to college, and received financial aid to pay for my college education.

I always thank God for giving me wisdom and for always guiding me. God’s plans are perfect and thanks to Him many doors have opened. I was accepted to Wake Forest University, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, Guilford College, Appalachian State, Western Carolina University and East Carolina University. I also received several outside scholarships for which I am very grateful. After many joys, it was time to make a decision. It was difficult, but God enlightened me. I knew at that moment that Wake Forest University was the perfect university for me. I am extremely happy to attend there in August.

A stage in my life culminated in Jordan-Matthews. A new one will start in Wake Forest. I couldn’t have gotten to this point without the help of God, my parents, teachers, counselors and family. 

From day one, all of these people have helped me meet all of my goals. I want to thank the Jordan-Matthews HS faculty and staff, for I have met so many teachers in my life, but to them there is no comparison. They give everything for their students and teach with love and dedication. So thank you very much. You have left a mark on me and I will always carry you in my mind and heart. I will be eternally grateful.

Finally, I want to thank the most important people in my life: my father Luis Marroquin, my mother Rebeca Tobar and my grandmother Rosario Tobar. I want to thank you for your unconditional support, for all your love, and for always being there for me. 

All my achievements are thanks to you and for you.

Siler City resident Jacquelinne Marroquin Tobar is a freshman at Wake Forest University. She lived most of her life in Chiquimula, Guatemala, but returned to the United States five years ago. She loves spending time with her family and doing community service.

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