Ferriday valedictorian credits hard work

Published 12:17 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FERRIDAY — When Xavier Allen moved to Ferriday from Monroe three years ago, he wasn’t sure what to expect at school.

But since then, he’s excelled, and when he walks across the stage at graduation Friday, he’ll walk as valedictorian.

Allen, 17, said he achieved the No. 1 rank by hard work and doing all of his assigned work.

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He admits he made one C during his ride through high school, but he’s worked hard to make sure that didn’t happen again.

“That time, I got lazy and let my discipline slip,” he said.

“Teachers will try to help you if they see you put forth an effort.”

For his senior year, Allen has been getting out of school at 11:30 a.m. and starting work at the school board office at noon daily.

He’s been working as a technology facilitator, similar to an IT technician.

He’s been tinkering with computers, game systems, televisions and car sound systems since junior high, and after a friend for the school board last year recommended Allen try to get the job.

At first, he was worried it might be hard, but Allen said he caught on quickly to what he was doing.

“After my first two weeks, I could put a computer together pretty fast,” he said.

During his work hours, Allen travels to different schools in the parish and works with the computers

And knowing that the working computer sitting on the table in front of him was a pile of parts a minute before was rewarding enough that Allen decided to pursue a double major in computer engineering and electrical engineering at Louisiana State University.

The choice to attend LSU was made because the other school he wanted to attend — Southern University — didn’t seem to be as interested in getting him to attend even though they were offering him a full scholarship, Allen said.

Instead, Allen was chosen as one of 25 out of 435 applicants to LSU’s La-STEM program, which will pay his room, board, meals, a $3,000 stipend and $11,000 yearly for travel to study at other campuses, a requirement of the program.

“That plus TOPS is a full ride,” he said.

“It was hard to pass up.”

Because he completed dual-enrollment classes and summer study programs, Allen will start college with 12 credits, three from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, six from Northwestern State University and three from McNeese State University.

Xavier is the son of Vicky and Gene Harris.