Destyni Proby is entering the University of California, San Diego, as a freshman in the fall — but not before leaving her own legacy as one of the 32 valedictorians in Poly High School's class of 2018.

"I'm going to miss everything about Poly," Proby said. "But it's time for the next class to have their opportunity to leave their own marks."

Proby is ending her high school career with a 4.4 weighted GPA, a member of the Associated Student Body board and a star swimmer. She spent her high school career volunteering, mentoring and empowering her peers, she said, and unknowingly preparing herself for growth beyond high school.

"I have changed so much since freshman year, and that has been such a good thing," she said. "I started focusing only on my academics and getting a 4.0, and I think my freshman self would be surprised at where I'm at now."

Destyni Proby: Poly Valedictorian 2018

Her goal was to lay low, get good grades and later move on to college, she said, adding that she didn't anticipate being so deeply involved with school activities and functions as a high school student .

And although her freshman self may have wanted to focus solely on her studies, Proby said that she quickly learned that she could be both studious and a student body leader.

During her schooling at Poly, Proby said that she maintained a position as Commissioner of Poly Medical Academy (MEDS), a pathway program that prepares students for a medical career and future schooling after high school.

She also is a member of Link Crew, a club comprised of Poly upperclassmen that helps incoming freshmen get acquainted with activities and programs at the school.

"I was the 'ring leader,' so it was my job to help organize the freshmen and prepare them for different school activities," Proby said. "It's my second year in the club, so this year I got to be a mentor and train 'Link Leaders' for next year after we graduate."

She also ran track as a freshman, and although she said that she suffered an injury that pulled her away from running, she returned her sophomore year as a member of the swim team. And due to her work between swim and academics, she was awarded this year with the Scholar Athlete award — a recognition for maintaining a 4.0 while participating in school sports.

Poly's Destyni Proby

Destyni stands with friends Alex, Jolani and Andres during a football game at Poly High School last year.

Additionally, she was an active member of the Female Leadership Academy at Poly. The club is a female-driven program that encourages leadership and academic success as well as helps to empower young girls to succeed.

"The skills that I learned here (at Poly) are skills that I'm going to be able to use when I go to college," she said. "And I would like to be able to help others do the same."

She said that she's already planning to join the Black Student Union (BSU) at UCSD, where she hopes to be a positive example for other students.

"I want to be a member of BSU because it's important to see different representations of people succeeding," she said. "At Poly, there's a lot of representation, but there isn't a large population of black students at UCSD, so I want to be able to set a positive example."

Now with graduation approaching, Proby said that she's looking forward to enjoying her summer and making her way down to San Diego in the fall to begin her next scholastic journey.

"I already have an idea of where I'm going to start," she said. "Now that high school is over, I'm really looking forward to see what the rest of this year is going to bring."

The district's largest graduating class, about 992 seniors from Poly High School and Poly Academy of Achievers and Leaders (PAAL), will take the stage at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, at LBCC's Veterans Memorial Stadium, 5000 E. Lew Davis St. Parking is $10.

For more information about the graduation ceremony, call the Poly High School office at (562) 591-0581.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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