, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

June 4, 2014

MHS valedictorian hopes to return to PA

PORT ARTHUR — Maiya Turner is a young woman with many interests.

During her high school years, the Memorial High School valedictorian played the saxophone in the Marching Heat Band, served as president of the Class of 2014, and was a member of the National Honor Society. After school hours, she was involved with Ivy League, a service group, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“There was always something new I found interesting,” Turner, 17, said. “I had to learn time management.”

Turner’s full schedule also meant many late nights, which, she said, “will come in really handy” when she heads to Texas A&M University to study biology. Turner hopes her time in College Station will serve as a stepping stone to graduate school and, later, medical school. She aspires to work as an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) specializing in high-risk pregnancies.

“I’ve always heard you should pick something you can see yourself doing for a long time,” Turner said. “This is interesting to me, and I can see myself doing it for a while.”

Being valedictorian was never a long-term goal for Turner — in fact, she never entertained the notion until she learned her ranking at the end of her junior year. Even once she was aware, Turner said she never felt the need to compete with other members of the Top 10, most of whom were close friends.

“I just thought, ‘I’m going to see if I can maintain it this year,’” she said. “And I did.”

Turner said she most enjoyed her English classes in high school. Writing is a hobby she pursues in her free time, when she has any.

“I could write an essay and it would give me the same joy,” Turner said.

 She cited chemistry teacher Gary Skelton and English III teacher Halye Keeney as the teachers whose classes gave her the most trouble. However, Skelton and Keeney are also two of her primary inspirations, along with band director Trent Johnson and her parents.

“They’ve always been my two biggest fans,” Turner said of her parents.

Unlike most her age, Turner doesn’t have plans to leave Port Arthur behind permanently. While she is eager to meet people with ideas similar to hers in college, she hopes to one day open her own OB/GYN practice in her hometown.

“All the people in my generation, the first thing they want to do is move away from Port Arthur,” Turner said. “But I think, why not come back and help the people who helped you?”

Jose Alvarado is Memorial High School’s salutatorian.


Twitter: @ErinnPA

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