Damien Memorial School honors first female valedictorian

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Melissa Gozun and Patrick Hughes_159397

A young woman is making history at Damien Memorial School.

Melissa Gozun, 18, is not only part of the school’s first co-ed graduating class, she is also its first female valedictorian.

Gozun entered Damien as a freshman in 2012, when the school first started admitting girls.

“When we first arrived, you could tell there were some people who didn’t know how to react to the girls being there. I think it was an adjustment for everyone involved,” she recalled.

The transition didn’t stop her from rising to the top of her class. She shares the valedictorian honor with fellow senior and close friend, George Nemeth.

“I don’t think it has quite hit me yet. Everyone keeps saying it, and I feel honored to represent my class in such a way, but it still feels like I’m going to wake up and it’s going to be the beginning of freshman year all over again,” she said.

Gozun and the rest of her class will officially graduate on Sunday, May 29, at Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall.

She plans to attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall, where she will pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.

“I’ve learned so much and developed so many lasting relationships that has helped me get to where I am right now,” she said.

Damien Memorial School opened in 1962 by the Christian Brothers of Ireland, now known as Congregation of Christian Brothers of Hawaii.

Since it began admitting girls, the school says enrollment has grown from 364 to nearly 700.

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