When Madison West found out she was the Class of 2020 Kaufer High School salutatorian, she felt excitement about receiving the honor. She said she also felt nervous, as it meant she would have to give a salutatory address during the graduation ceremony.
“I don’t like giving speeches,” she said. “But I’m really excited (to be salutatorian), because I didn’t expect it at all. I worked so hard to be in the top ten, and it’s always been a dream of mine to be in the top two.”
Madison is the daughter of Craig and Lisa West. She attended school in the Ricardo ISD until the eighth grade before transferring to the Riviera ISD for high school.
“I live in Riviera, so I already knew everybody,” she said.
During her senior year, Madison served as the FFA treasurer and was a member of the National Honor Society. She also received grand champion honors in the market goat division at this year’s Kleberg-Kenedy County Junior Livestock Show.
“And I participated in the San Antonio and Houston livestock shows,” she said.
It was during the Houston Livestock Show when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Texas hard and social distancing orders went into effect throughout the state. While Madison was able to exhibit her animal, she said they were all “kicked out” the next day as the rest of the show was canceled.
“We then heard that (Rodeo) Austin was canceled, and then my Ag teacher called and said school was canceled for the week,” she said. “And then it was (canceled) for another week. It was just crazy. We were waiting to go back to school, but we never did.”
Madison said she and her classmates were disappointed with how they were never able to go back to the campus after Spring Break.
“We missed out on a lot of things,” she said. “No senior trip or prom, and it’s not how I pictured ending my senior year.”
Madison said she was excited, however, that the school held a graduation ceremony – even in spite of her nerves about giving a speech.
“To have my friends and classmates walk the stage with me makes me happy,” she said.
In the fall, Madison will be attending Texas A&M University in College Station to study agricultural business. She said she plans to pursue a career as a pharmaceutical representative for agriculture products.
“(Texas A&M) has been my dream school since I was six years old,” she said. “And I have always loved agriculture and talking to people.”
Madison’s advice for incoming high school freshmen is for them to study hard and always do their best.
“And engage in every way you can,” she said. “Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t say that you’re going to wait for your senior year, because it may be like ours and you’ll have it taken away. Just treat every day in high school like it’s your last.”