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WEST GREENWICHâ€” When Trevor Tougas stands before the Exeter-West Greenwich High School class of 2011 this afternoon and delivers his speech as class salutatorian, heâ€™ll think about those closest to him that helped shape him into the student he is today.
Sadly, one of his biggest influences wonâ€™t be in attendance.
Just eight days before what is suppose to be the happiest day in any high school seniorâ€™s life, Tougas had to say goodbye to one of the most important people in his life, his grandfather Thomas Caramatro, who passed away last Friday at the age of 95.
To say the loss has weighed on Trevor would be an understatement. For a student who says his family was a â€śhuge influenceâ€ť on his path to class salutatorian, the loss defies definition.
Still, Tougas will try to put into words what he feels this afternoon and, he says, hopefully his classmates will take something away from his message.
â€śMy family,â€ť he said Monday afternoon. â€śTheir personalities have melded into my own and made me into who I am. One of the things I point out is how my grandfather was a very humble person. He didnâ€™t come from much but what he did, he was very proud of it. So, basically, I kind of said that no matter where you come from, you are who you are and you should do the best that you can.â€ť
That lesson has been one thatâ€™s guided Trevor the past four years.
As a student at EWG, there werenâ€™t many better than Tougas at studying and going the extra mile for the perfect grade.
â€śI would always put school work before other things and I would always make sure I got it done,â€ť he said. â€śEven if it was coming down to the wire, I would get it done on time.â€ť
Finding the balance between life in and out of the classroom was something that just came naturally to Tougas, who was a four-year member of the varsity track team.
â€śI just found a way somehow,â€ť the veteran javelin thrower said. â€śSometimes I will put off some homework because I know I can get it done later but early in my high school career, I put a lot more emphasis in doing my work and then later on I had more of a balance but I was still putting my full effort into my school work.â€ť
It certainly didnâ€™t hurt that he had parents who took an active interest in keeping him on the right path.
â€śA lot of my inspiration came from my dad [Chris],â€ť he said. â€śHe was always pushing me, always making sure I had my work done, always asking me what I had going on at school, if I had any projects that were due. It was a little annoying sometimes, but it was definitely worth it.â€ť
Tougasâ€™ hard work paid off in the form of an acceptance letter from the University of Delaware. His goal is to major in chemical engineering.
â€śIâ€™m very interested in science and math. Those are probably my strongest subjects,â€ť he said. â€śMy dad was an electrical engineer and my brother, he actually just graduated from URI with a bachelorâ€™s degree in chemical engineering so that was a major influence for me to get into that field.â€ť
The big thing for Tougas is that chemical engineering offers him a wide variety of options once he leaves school.
â€śI have a very good chance of basically doing anything that pertains to that because when you have a background in chemical engineering, you can basically branch off into practically any type of science that you want to,â€ť he said. â€śI want that broad range of ability to do whatever I want.â€ť
Regardless of what he chooses, Tougas will no doubt find a way to be successful.
His family would have it no other way.