Tondo-born Filipina valedictorian makes her mark as a Los Angeles school district student board member

CARSON, CA — It wasn’t the way Carson high school valedictorian Frances Suavillo expected to graduate.

At a grab-and-go taco celebration from her driveway, she reflected on what it would have been like to actually march on stage and address her class of 2020.

“There still feels like an empty hole I’m trying to fill with this party, and virtual graduation, but it just sucks I won’t be able to throw my cap up in the air with my friends and say thank you to my teachers in front of their face. So right now it hasn’t sunk in yet.

Migrating from Tondo, Manila, 10 years ago, Frances has come a long way. She became an LAUSD student board member, as she racked up straight A’s.

And despite offers from a number of Ivy League schools, Frances chose to stay in California, and pursue international relations at Stanford University — on a full scholarship at that.

“It’s just crazy to see what I’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time, like you said I was able to graduate as valedictorian and I remember coming as a 9th grader to my English teach and I was like I’m going to be valedictorian, and nobody really took me seriously until they started taking me seriously and now I’m here and I’m proud to say I’m valedictorian and that I’m LAUSD student board member how many people can say that it’s been an honor.”

The class of 2020 may have had one of the most interesting journeys into adulthood.

Born shortly after 9/11, these resilient students have had to survive an era of social media culture, threats of school violence, social causes, and a pandemic.

“There’s something definitely going on with our class year. I love it. I wouldn’t trade being part of the class of 2020 for anything else in the world, but the one thing I learned from us is we’re so resilient and we’re able to push by past the obstacles.”

As Frances looks forward to her college life, she also made sure to leave her mark as an LAUSD student board member, to improve the learning experiences for students.

Last January, she passed a resolution that would honor October as Filipino American History Month in the school district.

In her final meeting next week, she will introduce a student bill of rights.

“My resolution is the student bill of rights for LAUSD, so it’s just a document that outlines student rights, and I feel it’s one of the more important ones especially right now. Once everyone gets back to campus, students will not know what their right are. And it’s important to make sure they know what their rights are and they have an equitable education.”

While many colleges are announcing online courses to begin the year. Suavillo is patiently waiting to hear Stanford’s plan for when their school year begins in September.

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