Cedar Hill Salutatorian Sets Goals For Yale And Beyond

Richard Cardoso
Richard Cardoso, the Cedar Hill Collegiate High School Salutatorian and a first generation college student, earned a full academic scholarship to Yale, which is one of the eight prestigious Ivy League universities. Photo Submitted by Cedar Hill ISD.

First Generation College Student Is Headed To Yale

(CEDAR HILL, TX) When Richard Cardoso enrolls in Yale University this summer, he will truly hold dear the significance of the accomplishment.

“It means a lot because I get to represent my family and the hard work that my parents have put in to make this possible,” said Cardoso, who graduated from Collegiate High School last week. “It will be great to represent my family in that regard.”

Cardoso, the Cedar Hill Collegiate High School Salutatorian and a first generation college student, earned a full academic scholarship to Yale, which is one of the eight prestigious Ivy League universities. The New Haven, Connecticut-based university only accepts 6.3 percent of applicants. Three of the past five U.S. Presidents have earned a degree from Yale.

Cardoso was also accepted into several prominent universities, including Brown (Ivy League), Rice and SMU.

Because he graduated from Collegiate, Cardoso has an Associate’s Degree (Associate’s of Science) from Cedar Valley College. He’ll bring that academic experience with him to college.

Leadership For A Diverse America

“Richard has always been driven and most importantly, willing to drive others,” Collegiate Dean of Instruction Benjamin Hairgrove said. “He always wants to rise the tide of those around him. He’s done things like mentor the lower grade levels. He honestly cares about everyone doing well.”

Although Cardoso, 18, always had the grades and resume to earn admission into Yale, it was a summer program at Princeton University, an Ivy League university school in New Jersey, that made him realize it was possible.

Last summer, Cardoso was selected to participate in the seven-week program called Leadership for a Diverse America (LEDA) at Princeton. The LEDA students visited several universities, and they made the 260-mile round trip to see Yale.

“If it weren’t for that, I probably wouldn’t have applied to Yale,” Cardoso said. “We learned about leadership and honed our writing skills.”

Cardoso had a busy summer in 2019. He also participated in a week-long youth program at NASA in Houston.

“We spoke to a bunch of the scientists and researchers, toured the Space Center and worked on different projects,” Cardoso said. “I was the Systems Manager on my team, and our project was designing a spaceship to get us to Mars.”

Collegiate Science Teacher Daveen Cato recognized Cardoso’s academic aptitude over the years.

“He was able to take abstract concepts and apply them to real world scenarios,” Cato said. “Richard is such a bright student with amazing academic talent.”

Quest For Social Justice

Cardoso was originally interested in science and engineering and still values it, but his quest for social justice has steered him toward the legal field. He plans to become an Immigration or Civil Rights Attorney and attend law school in Texas upon graduation from Yale.

“I want to help people forge a better life in the United States,” Cardoso said. “I can actively help people by being an attorney.”

In line with his career goals, Cardoso had secured an internship with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) this summer in Washington D.C. Due to the COVID-19 Crisis, he will most likely have to complete the internship remotely.

Cardoso has done a great deal of community service work, especially through First Baptist Church of Duncanville where he is a member. He volunteered to help families in the Houston area devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017..

“Going down there and hearing their stories was heartbreaking,” Cardoso said. “We met a widow who lost a house that was built by her husband. She had to start all the way over. She was so grateful that people were helping out.”

Although groups and organizations beyond Cedar Hill have noticed and recognized Cardoso’s talents, his impact on the community where he was born is significant.

Involved In The Community

He started his CHISD academic career at Highlands Elementary and attended Joe Wilson Intermediate and Permenter Middle School, before enrolling at Collegiate.

Cardoso served on the Cedar Hill Mayor’s Teen Council (MTC), planning events and volunteering in the community.

“I had a chance to learn a lot about my city and connect with the people there,” Cardoso said. “Cedar Hill is a very green community. When I think of it, I think of the tree logo, and I think of a very loving and caring community.”

Cedar Hill Mayor Stephen Mason took notice of Cardoso’s contributions to the MTC. Mason was the individual who “adopted” Cardoso during the “Adopt A Senior” program this month.

“My first impression of him is he is a very bright young man,” Mason said. “As I got to know him, I noticed a strong sense of respect from his peers. As he campaigned to be an officer of the MTC, I was impressed with how serious he took the task. Additionally, I am proud to know he will lead his senior class as the Salutatorian.”

Cardoso was also the President of the Collegiate National Honor Society and the Student Council Treasurer.

He did all of these things, while working part-time at Chick-fil-A in Cedar Hill.

“I worked in the front, serving guests and taking orders – I was also trained to work in the kitchen,” Cardoso said.

During the COVID-19 Crisis, Cardoso has continued to work. He’s completed his Collegiate coursework through Flex Learning.

“It’s definitely been a transition,” Cardoso said. “I really miss being around my friends.”