BILOXI -- D'Iberville High graduate Tommy Duong's mother provided inspiration for his valedictory speech.
Duong credited his mother, Hiep Duong, at the school's graduation ceremony Saturday at the Coast Coliseum. "To see my mother come from a poverty-stricken life in Vietnam before coming to America and opening up her own business inspired me to excel in school and in the future," he said. "I'm motivated to complete her American dream." Duong, who will major in business administration and biochemistry at the University of Southern California, also thanked salutatorian Savannah Underwood. Since their days at D'Iberville Middle school, they've ranked one-two.
"I'm very honored to be valedictorian of this class," Duong said. "I've dreamed of being the top student in our senior class since I was at D'Iberville Elementary School. Savannah and I are happy for each other." Underwood, who will major in microbiology at the University of Southern Mississippi, said she always knew one of them would be D'Iberville's top student.
"We've been right on each other noses since the eighth grade," she said. "It's a very friendly competition. We've both worked hard. If the roles were reversed, we'd still be happy for each other."
D'Iberville High orator Brooke Trochesset praised her classmates for their accomplishments, which included earning a school-record $10.7 million in scholarship money and 14 students with ACT scores over 30.
"This senior class overcame the daily challenges of balancing the different aspects of their lives, like work, class, sports and extra-curriculars," she said. "This class had the nation's top powerlifter (Cade Ross) and a national championship cheerleader squad."