The surf is up for Chelsea’s Deedee Hernandez, who might be the first and only Chelsea High valedictorian that doubles as a surfer, a trumpet player and Ivy League student.
Hernandez has been very active in the school and community over the last four years, but being at the top of her class wasn’t something she thought would happen.
“Honestly, I wasn’t aspiring for the valedictorian of the class,” she said. “My only goal was just to get into a college. That was a goal since I entered middle school. My mother always told us that we had to go to college. That was always a goal we were reaching for.”
And not only did she reach it, but she grabbed onto a great school in the Ivy League Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
Hernandez, 18, said she was drawn to the rural landscape – being interested in the outdoors and hiking – but was also impressed with the alumni network.
“I was really drawn to the alumni network they have,” she said. “A lot of them come back to the college and have relationships and share their experiences with students. I thought that was very unique. The college is very small and it felt like a family and people were friendly.”
At Dartmouth, Hernandez hopes to major in environmental science – something she was drawn to by her swim coach, Traverse Robinette, at the Jordan Boys & Girls Club.
In addition to swimming twice at the National Championships in Florida, Hernandez and several other Chelsea kids joined Robinette’s surf club. When surfing in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the students learned about the various animals in the ocean.
“My swim coach was passionate about the environment and pointed out the animals we saw,” she said. “I did research on it and was drawn to the idea of preserving these animals. I love nature and being outside, so it’s something I’m very interested in.”
In addition to those pursuits, Hernandez is well known for playing the trumpet in the band – having been the designated performer of ‘Taps’ for the City and the Soldiers’ Home for four years.
She said she started playing in fifth grade when her former band teacher, Mr. Thomas, picked up a trumpet and played ‘Reveille.’
“I heard him play that and I knew I had to play the trumpet,” she said.
She does plan to pursue the trumpet in college and hopes to play in their orchestra.
Hernandez has gone to Chelsea schools her entire life, starting at the Silber ELC, moving on to the Kelly School, then to the Clark Avenue Middle.
Hernandez credits her mother, Ana Moscoso, for always pushing her to reach higher.
“My mother was always the type of person to asked me what I would do next after I had accomplished something,” she said. “I’ve found that to be useful because you see what else you’re capable of doing and don’t get satisfied with one thing.”
Hernandez has two brothers, Mike, 16, at Chelsea High; and Akanni, 10.