Valley Valedictorians: David Li, McAllen Memorial High School

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              The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of students dramatically. From in-class sessions to distant learning, most affected in all of this is the graduating class of 2020. To honor each class and the hard work they have put in, CBS 4 is honoring valedictorians from each campus across the Rio Grande Valley on CBS 4 Valley This Morning.

MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — David Li is the valedictorian for McAllen Memorial High School.

Having his senior year cut short without any warning made him realize how much school and friends mean to him.

“We kind of take school for granted sometimes, and when it’s cut short, you look back on it and think, ‘Wow, that was a really important part of my life.’ And I also realize how important human interaction is. Even though you can Zoom, you can FaceTime, you can text, it’s really not the same as talking to people in person.”

As the world has changed dramatically since the quarantine began, David believes it’s bringing positive change that will make society better, and that the future will be full of needed change.

“I’ve also heard some people say 2020 just might be the year that we needed. A lot of what’s come with the pandemic, and now the riots and protests have shown how much disparity and inequality there is in our country. There’s so many problems that we need to fix, and can fix if we come together and recognize these problems. I think it’s good even though at face value, it’s a horrible thing to have. It’s kind of like a reset of what we can do in the future to make progress.”

David says he’s learned a lot about how the U.S. works. It’s been eye-opening to see how some communities are more vulnerable to the pandemic than others. 

“There’s a lot of new dialogue now of my peers about how public health or infrastructure in the U.S. can disproportionately affect one group more than another. There’s a lot of inequality in health care system.”

David has found this time is shaping the way he sees the world. 

“We can look back on this time with a lot of clarity and hindsight. We can remember the things we did right, the things we did wrong, and really reflect on how this pandemic has taught us about humanity and the government and how important social interaction is as humans. We’re living through a historical moment and I think it’s a good thing even though it might seem like a bad thing.” 

He wants his teachers to know he appreciates their dedication to their students.

“A lot of them are so selfless and they’re always there to help me. Even when I bothered them when had to stay behind and work extra because I needed tutoring.”

He plans to major in applied math or neuroscience. His dream job is to be a lawyer professor.

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