ATLANTA, Ga. -- Westover Comprehensive High School 2010 graduate Michael Lomax will share his thoughts on the state of public education today when he addresses the PAGE Foundation Board of Trustees at their meeting at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
Lomax became the first Dougherty County student to win the PAGE (Professional Association of Educators) State STAR Student of the Year award in late April.
The Yale University freshman was flown in Wednesday morning by PAGE officials to speak at the event. PAGE is also funding his hotel and flight back to New Haven, Conn., Friday. Lomax estimated the trip's cost was about $800-$1,000.
Click here to read the speech.
"This is the first time in their 52 years that they've called their (state) STAR Student back to speak at their event, so this is a huge honor for me," Lomax said Wednesday night. "It's a really big commitment and they really wanted me to be here and I'm glad to be here. What it came down to is that I come from a public school in an underrepresented county and they just wanted for me to assure these top leaders from across the state that there are good things happening in our public schools."
Lomax, who is receiving a full scholarship to the Ivy League school valued at $52,000 annually, has become the poster child of what's good about public education. The 18-year-old was raised by his mother, Jaye, lived in various towns along the East Coast and as far west as New Mexico due to his mother being a traveling hotel operations controller. The family settled in Albany in 1999.
He made a point to utilize every opportunity available to him. Whether it was reading constantly, competing in sports, joining academic clubs, participating in the Excel Gifted Program and Advanced Placement classes, Lomax was determined to use all of the Dougherty County School System's resources to become successful. As he told The Herald in April, students ultimately are responsible for their own success, not educators.
"I'm just going to talk about personal experiences and how I've been helped along the way through my education experiences," he said of his 3 p.m. speech which will available on The Herald's website attached to this story at 3 p.m. today. "I'm just going to pass along to these business leaders that there are good things happening -- you just have to look for them."
Jaye Lomax said she's very appreciative of PAGE's efforts on behalf of her son.
"I'm so proud of him," she said. "From a mom's perspective, I'm just so happy to see him. It's a good honor and hopefully it'll do some good and maybe convince people it's not all bad."
In his three weeks that he's attended Yale, Jaye Lomax said her son is "enjoying so much." Her son is studying public policy in government and is on a pre-med track.
"I never could imagine him going to (an) Ivy League (school) with me spending the money," she said. "I'm so glad he earned all the scholarships and that he'll make something of this opportunity that he's been given. That's what we pray for. I'm not there to keep an eye on him and he's now a college kid. It sounds like from what he's said that he's found some good friends like he had here in Albany, Ga., all his friends are dedicated to studying."
Westover Principal William Chunn said Michael Lomax will "forever" be tied to the northwest Albany high school.
"Michael will always be a Westover Patriot and we will forever take pride in his future accomplishments because we know there's going to be a lot of them," he said.