When Bishop Noll Institute senior Carmelina Komyatte graduates as valedictorian this May, she will make history.
Carmelina becomes the third consecutive sibling from her family to earn the title of valedictorian at Bishop Noll, an accomplishment never before achieved in the school’s 100-year history.
Her brothers Franco and Giovanni earned the valedictorian title in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
“I think it’s really cool that all three of us have earned this title individually, especially for three consecutive years,” Carmelina said. “We are all pretty different people, but collectively we were always very intrinsically motivated. From a young age we understood that our schoolwork was our own responsibility, so whatever success we got from that was completely ours and no one else's. And you can see how that could be pretty convincing to three little kids who share everything.”
The siblings attended Our Lady of Grace School in Highland.
“It is a small school, so we knew that we were big fish in that little pond but no one really knew what the big pond of Bishop Noll was going to be like, so we didn’t have expectations. None of us wanted this title for the attention or the speech or the medallion. I think we all just wanted to prove it to ourselves and to other people that we can still be big fish even in a big pond,” Carmelina said.
Graduating as valedictorian is a great source of pride because she has always been hard on herself when it comes to school, she said.
“I finally got to breathe because this is actual proof that I did everything I possibly could have done. I have taken all the hardest classes we have and I have earned all As all four years, and that was simply a matter of hard work and dedication. I have put so much time and effort into my classes and it just feels really good that it has finally paid off.”
Carmelina will follow in the footsteps of brother Giovanni when she attends the University of Notre Dame this fall to major in biology.
“I wanted to go to Notre Dame almost my whole life, but I never thought I would get in, so it has been kind of surreal,” she said. “I am so excited. My mom is from South Bend and she went to Notre Dame, and Giovanni is a freshman there now, so I feel good about my decision.”
She said no matter the year, becoming valedictorian takes commitment and hard work.
“We were all very intrinsically motivated to get to this point, but (my brothers) definitely helped me a lot. I always had the inside scoop on what classes to take, what different teachers were like, how to study for different tests and how different teachers grade.”
She said that although they are all different, her brothers inspire her in their own ways.
“They always seemed to know a little bit more about everything than I did. I would get frustrated as a kid when they knew things that I didn’t know because I was younger. So all my life I just wanted to know as much as my brothers did, so that kind of pushed me to want to learn as many things as possible.”
She also said she got serious about earning the title of valedictorian when she found out Franco earned the honor her sophomore year and knew Giovanni would be valedictorian of his class.
“I was scared about what people would think if I did not get the same title,” she said. “I have worked hard all my life to never be thought of as in my brothers’ shadows, so everything in me refused the possibility of disappointing myself or others. It was always more about me proving to myself that I can do anything my brothers can do. I am sure that has to do with both being the youngest child and the only girl.”
In addition to her academic successes, Carmelina is National Honor Society vice president, co-founder of the Women’s Empowerment Club, a Student Council senator, a Student Ambassador, a retreat leader, and Biology Club chairman. She has also participated on the Speech Team, Academic Super Bowl team, Science Olympiad team, Spanish National Honor Society, and Campus Ministry. In addition, she competed as a Bishop Noll tennis player and swimmer.
“(Bishop Noll) felt right for me,” Carmelina said of choosing which high school to attend. “I was familiar with the school because of my brothers, and I felt comfortable here. I knew there would be more opportunities to be involved and I knew that it would be easier to make friends since our classes are smaller.”
Her parents, Jude and Cay Komyatte, feel grateful and blessed to have three valedictorians in the family.
“We feel like we are not smart enough to talk to our own children sometimes,” Cay said. “We are happy for them. We know how hard they worked and the challenges they faced. We are proud to just be associated with them. We are most proud that they are strong in their faith.”
She said Giovanni and Franco are both doing well in college.
“Honestly, Giovanni is so happy at Notre Dame, it is kind of irritating to talk to him. He does not miss us one bit. He studies a lot. He is directly involved in cancer research, measuring the impact of various rates of experimental cancer treatments at destroying cancer cells.”
Franco has a fun and full life at the University of Evansville, she said. He has made the dean's list every semester, is an intramural supervisor and works delivering food.
“He has a practical approach to managing his college expenses and has been able to pay his part. We do not know where he gets all his energy,” she said. “If things continue to go well, he will have his doctorate in physical therapy in May of 2025.”
The Komyattes said that in addition to their individual hard work, their children's success is thanks to many including their childhood caregiver, the principal and teachers at Our Lady of Grace and the Bishop Noll community.
“We are living in extraordinary times, and we have extraordinary young people who have risen to the challenge and have succeeded. Thank God and thank you all,” Cay said.