Blind Toledo teen is the valedictorian of his class

Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 1:50 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Being the valedictorian of your class is an amazing accomplishment for anyone, but one Toledo teen's story is even more remarkable than most. Jalen Ballard is graduating from St. Francis de Sales School at the top of his class Saturday.

It takes a lot of work to do that, and it meant even more work for Jalen, his family as well the staff at the school. Jalen is blind, and his story has a lot of lessons for us all.

Jalen had his first eye surgery at the age of just three months. While he had some vision for part of his life, his mother Michelle says he lost his sight right before he started high school.

Jalen is graduating with a 4.638 GPA, and heading to The University of Michigan for his undergraduate studies. He plans to major in computer science. Jalen is very familiar with The University of Michigan. His mother says it's where he had all of his eye surgeries.

As far as graduation at St. Francis, the seniors will all be able to walk across the stage in the gym on Saturday to receive their diplomas with their families watching. The hope is that they will be able to participate in some other senior year traditions this summer.

Ballard also received a Lighthouse Guild Scholarship, presented to an outstanding student who is legally blind.

He received an $8,500 scholarship. As part of the scholarship application, Ballard wrote an essay about his physics teacher, Scott Secrest. The essay helped Secrest earn the Lighthouse Guild Teacher Recognition Award.