- Durham Public Schools
Student of the Month | November 2023 | Santiago Parejo Cano
Santiago Parejo Cano is a self-described introvert who says he thrived during the Covid-19 pandemic. But to look at his track history, one could note that his ambition is what he personifies.
The humble International Baccalaureate scholar maintains a 4.5 grade point average and ranks number three in his class. When he was presented with the award for having the highest ACT score, he asked if they were sure it was him.
“As funny as that was, it also communicated the serious approach he takes to his academic endeavors,” said high Social Studies teacher Margaret Meyers. “Santiago is by far one of the most focused scholars at our school.”
While out with the rest of the nation waiting to return to school, work, and public during the pandemic, he created plans and deadlines so that he could complete his work and commitments in a timely fashion. He says his father has been his inspiration, teaching him the value of “hard work, courage, and perseverance, because were it not for him making the choice of migrating to the country, I wouldn’t have had half the opportunities I have been lucky enough to have experienced here,” he said.
Santiago was named a Questbridge Finalist. If chosen as a Match (Match Scholarship Recipients are granted admission to one of QuestBridge's college partners with a full four-year scholarship worth over $200,000 each) he plans to attend his “dream school Vanderbilt University.” He also has his sights set on Elon, Wingate, Johnson and Wales, or NC Wesleyan. When he matriculates to college, he will major in Computer Science and then pursue a masters degree. He eventually plans to become either a data analyst or a computer programmer, with the goal of creating a new computer language and using it to program a device.
His teacher, Meyers, believes he will.
“Santiago is exceptionally talented, consistently hard-working, and eternally curious,” Meyers said. “He does not make excuses or succumb to distractions, but instead challenges himself to pursue greatness at every opportunity. He is happy with nothing less than his absolute best. In many ways, Santiago already conducts himself like a college student. He is certainly destined for success!”
Santiago says he is most proud of writing a 4,000-word essay for his IB History class’s Internal Assessment.
“My biggest motivator, currently, is passing my IB exams in May and receiving my IB Diploma,” he said. “That goal is currently motivating me to excel in my classes at the moment. It’s the longest piece of writing I have ever written, and I am proud of the dedication and time I put towards making it.”
His dedication to fulfilling his ambitions challenges his personal life, he admits.
“One challenge of mine, lately, has been trying to balance my school life with my personal life,” he said. “I have become so engulfed in my work that I almost don’t have time to spend with my family or friends. However, I do think it’ll be worth it in the long run.”
Santiago is involved in Hillside’s Outdoors Club. He also participates in the media group at his church (Monte Sinai Durham), and he facilitates a bi-weekly presentation during church service using software called Proclaim. He’s responsible for giving church members a visual of the lyrics of various gospel songs and hymns that the church’s group covers. He also shares the Bible verses that the pastor uses in each service.
“So far, my biggest accomplishment is (aside from being granted the title of DPS’s Student of the Month for November, of course) being selected as Questbridge College Match Finalist,” he said. “The news of this made me feel over the moon with excitement. It was as if I had reached the last step towards my academic goals and aspirations.”