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BRIGHT FUTURES — PNG senior Ryan Abate sets out to get better each day

PORT NECHES — Seventeen-year-old Ryan Abate is heading into his senior year at Port Neches-Groves High School with one motto on his mind — “Get better.”

The Groves native is apart of the Indians football team, a member of the National Honor Society, TRIBE leader and the newly elected Student Council Senior Class President.

“I have a reminder on my phone every day that always says, “Get better today,” Abate said. “It reminds me that I can always do better whether it’s in football, education or within myself. It pushes me and motivates me every day. It’s just about getting better.”

Ryan Abate is apart of the TRIBE organization at PNG High School that welcomes incoming freshmen. (Emily Smith/NDNpress)

Abate’s goal in life is to be the master of his own destiny and become a leader in life.

“I’ve been playing football for about four years of high school,” he said. “I’ve been in student council for the last three years. This year I’m the senior class president. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments. I was very excited when I made the senior class president because I always want to be a leader for my peers.”

As class president, Abate’s goal is raising the club’s inclusivity and leading spirit week.

“I want to make it all equal and give everybody a chance to be a part of student council,” he said. “I don’t want to let anyone feel left out. I want to make the school better.

“My favorite part is I will get to lead spirit week this year. I will get to choose what spirit days we have for the week. It’s always fun to dress up and get ready for the Mid-County Madness game. It really brings up the school spirit.”

Abate is known around the school for his positivity and spirit.

Port Neches-Groves High School teacher Lisa Boudoin said it has been a pleasure to have Abate as a student.

“He is self-motivated and a high achiever,” she said. “He chose to double up geometry with algebra 2 when there are many easier paths. He was quite successful. Plus, he loves the Astros like I do.”

History teacher Michael Baker said Abate was one of his favorite students of all time.

“Not only did he excel in the classroom, but he came in each and every day with an infectious positive attitude,” Baker said. “He is the type of student that makes this job fun and rewarding.”

Abate’s leadership and personality also extends into his future career choice. After graduation, he intends to enroll at Lamar University for construction management to complete his bachelor’s and master’s degree.

“A lot of people I know do construction, and it seems like a good career for me,” he said. “I like to be in charge and I’ve always liked building things.”

Abate hopes to have his own construction company one day.

“Being in charge of a building project seems perfect,” he said. “It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do and after a lot of reassurance this is the best career for me. I just want to be successful, have a good family, be comfortable and never worry about money and I feel like education gives you a head start in being successful.”

Outside of school and athletics, Abate is leader of the Immaculate Conceptions Catholic Church’s youth group.

“Religion has always been very important to me,” he said. “I grew up a Catholic and I want to keep my faith and always trust in God. It’s very important to one day have a family that is Catholic whose faith is important to them, too.”

His favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Abate looks to this quote while in the midst of life’s challenges.

“One of my biggest challenges was during my freshman year I was really overweight and lost about 70 pounds,” he said. “That was a very big challenge for me, to stay focused and get myself to where I wanted to be. I wanted to have a better appearance and feel better about myself. I wanted to look in the mirror and be happy. It was a hard journey, but it was all worth it and I am happy with where I am right now.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been another challenge for the upcoming senior, but his best advice is to stay positive.

“Life is different and we aren’t living a normal life, it’s hard,” he said. “But I try to look at the positives. I get to spend time with my family, friends and girlfriend before we part ways for college. The best thing to do is stay positive and always want to get better. Always take that step forward to be the best version of you.”