Risse Ashburn keeps valedictorian honor in family

Risse Ashburn always knew she was making good grades but was still surprised to earn the honor of being valedictorian of her graduating class … the top-ranking senior academically.

“They called me into the office sophomore year and told me I was No. 1 and that’s when I kind of starting feeling the pressure because I was like, ‘Oh, I have to keep this,’” she said.

Ashburn, whose first name is pronounced “Rees-a,” follows her sister Lasey, who was valedictorian last year.
She’ll go to Texas Tech, where she wants to study to be a teacher.

Ashburn said staying persistent was the hardest part after learning her class rank, especially during her senior year because she wanted to relax with her friends.

A Wolfforth native, Ashburn attended Casey Elementary beginning in kindergarten until Sunday’s graduation.

She said that’s part of the reason it’s difficult to say goodbye to her friends after graduation. She has many underclassman friends who she’s leaving behind and said she’ll miss them greatly.

She starts Tech in the fall, the only school she applied to, she said.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Tech. I’m a die-hard Tech fan and always have been. I’m really excited,” said Ashburn.

She earned four scholarships to help pay for school totaling more than $25,000. These include:Since first grade, Ashburn said she knew she wanted to be a teacher but for different reasons than she does now. As a first grader, she wanted to be the teacher writing on the overhead and conducting lesson plans because it seemed fun. As she got older she realized she was a good teacher because she often helps people with their work and said she’s told she’s good at explaining subjects to people. Ashburn enjoys helping people understand and learn new things, she said.

“I love kids and just put two and two together and knew I should be a teacher,” she said.

Frenship has a program called the Texas Association of Future Educators where students can gain real-world teaching experience and Ashburn took part in this program her senior year. She was given the opportunity to teach a lesson plan to elementary students and said it helped her know she’s entering the right career field.

Her goal at Tech is to earn a degree in elementary education with an emphasis on math and science skills. She also wants to earn her ESL certification, which enables teachers to teach students English as a second language. Ashburn hopes to work with first and second grade students. She enjoys those ages because the children are old enough to build on past lessons and concepts they’ve been taught and are still excited to learn.

Ashburn’s parents always encouraged her and pushed her to do her best, she said. She said her sister Lasey, who is already at Tech, always motivated her and inspired her to graduate as valedictorian.

When Ashburn isn’t doing homework she enjoys scrapbooking and learned it from her mother.
She hopes to get the chance to go to Europe, she said, either during or after college.

“I’m really into crazy stuff like skydiving,” said Ashburn. “I want to travel to see and experience things. I don’t plan on staying out here forever, but if I want to come back eventually — I will.”

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