Graduation surprise: Undocumented valedictorian

(WMBF) – Cinthia Zavala-Ramos stood before the more than 400 members of her graduating Socastee High School class Wednesday afternoon as their valedictorian.

From the stage of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, she let everyone in attendance – classmates, teachers, friends and family – know exactly who she is.

“The face that stands before you is the face of an undocumented illegal immigrant,” Ramos said.

Like many other valedictorians before her, Ramos said she was nervous to give her speech. The reason was she thought people may walk out.

Related: Amherst school policy protects undocumented students

“I didn’t want to speak today because I was scared people were going to boo me or walk out. But I started to cry when the whole class stood up because I’m just surprised by how compassionate everybody is,” said Ramos.

During her commencement, Ramos said she is many things: a student, a Sunday school teacher and an undocumented illegal immigrant.

“I think in order for me to tell me story I needed to get to a podium, somewhere where I proved my worth through academics,” Ramos said.

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