DPS Student of the Month: Ray Palma
Ranked first in his class, Riverside High School senior Ray Palma has been selected as the Durham Public Schools Student of the Month for October. Ray was nominated by his school to apply for UNC’s Morehead-Cain scholarship because he exemplifies the four basic criteria of the scholarship: leadership, character, scholarship and physical vigor.
Throughout his high school career, Ray has been a leader both in school and in the community. He has been a member of the Durham Youth Commission for four years, serving as the president for two of those years.
In addition, he serves as the chairman of the North Carolina Teenage Republicans organization and founded and chairs the Durham County Teenage Republicans club. Ray was selected by the Durham City Council to serve as the youth representative on the newly created Durham City Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee and was appointed by Gov. Cooper’s administration to serve as a youth representative on the NC Youth Advisory Council. He also spent time in Raleigh as a page for both Gov. Cooper and Senator Mike Woodard.
According to Ray, an eighth-grade civics and economics class inspired him to become more politically involved and a youth advocate. He also encourages his classmates to be more aware of the politics that impact their lives.
“I’m always telling my classmates who are old enough to make sure they are registered to vote and to get to know more about the candidates running for office. I don’t care who they vote for, I just want them to do their own research and make up their own minds. It’s so important for my generation to get out and vote as soon as they turn 18,” said Ray.
It is no surprise that Ray is considering majoring in political science once he graduates from Riverside. However, he’s not limiting himself and is also thinking about majoring in economics or statistics. Either way, he plans to continue political pursuits while in college. Ray would like to start a political action committee that focuses on encouraging Generation Z to run for office and helping get them elected.
Beyond the classroom and politics, Ray is the captain of the Riverside High School baseball team and was named a PAC-6 All-Conference player in 2017. He also likes to play Ultimate Frisbee in his free time.
Riverside teacher Tim Velogol wrote, “This is one reflective and courageous young man. In a world where it's easy to be critical, cynical, and despairing, he is none of those. He strives to be analytical and objective, to lead through active listening, and to seek consensus.
Ray is committed to making a difference - in the public school that he chose to be a part of - and the state where he grew up. To me, he exemplifies all the best of what not just DPS, but Durham itself is: diverse, tolerant, and optimistic about the future.”