The next four years of Kayley Marchena’s life will be missing one worry that many college students struggle with. Gone is the question of how she and her family will pay for college.
The School of Integrated Technology valedictorian will study Biology at Queens College in Charlotte on a full scholarship. That’s $180,000 that won’t be coming out of Mom and Dad’s pocket. For Marchena, winning the scholarship was as much of a goal as finishing high school at the top of her class. She will graduate Tuesday with a 5.0 GPA. The daughter of Guido and Sandra Marchena of Wendell, she says achieving high academic accomplishments is part goal-setting and part sticktuitiveness. “A lot of it is doing your work. I know a lot of people who are smart enough to be the valedictorian, but somewhere they slacked off,” Marchena said. “You have to have a motivation.”
Marchena, whose parents did not attend college, says they are especially proud of their daughter’s accomplishments. “My mom won’t stop talking about it ever since we found out. She tells anyone who will listen. She’s so excited. Dad’s quieter about it, but I see the way he smiles when it comes up and it tells me he is proud,” Marchena said.
Like her fellow valedictorians, Marchena has avoided the temptation to go to class and go straight home. She’s been a member of the East Wake tennis team and she sings in the school’s Honor’s Chorale. She was also an officer in the National Honor Society and president of her class in the School of IT.
Those associations have been important to Marchena and, she says, she’s learned lessons from all those extracurricular experiences. “It’s one thing to be in a club and another thing to be motivated to do something in that club. You don’t ever want to do anything halfway,” Marchena said.
In her case, that also includes the classroom work. “You have to find that drive. You can’t expect things to be easy. Expect to work and that will pay off.”