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Valedictorian+and+salutatorian%2C+Yadira+Nava+and+Jorge+Rodriguez%2C+are+both+planning+on+continuing+their+education+at+a+four-year+university.+Nava+plans+on+attending+UC+Davis+and+goes+on+to+say%2C+%E2%80%9CI+feel+accomplished%2C+yet+sad+and+excited+all+at+the+same+time.+We%E2%80%99re+all+taking+our+separate+paths%2C+but+I%E2%80%99m+excited+to+see+what+the+future+has+for+each+individual.%E2%80%9D+While+Rodriguez+plans+on+attending+Pomona+College+commenting%2C+%E2%80%9CI+am+very+excited+to+leave+high+school+because+it+is+finally+a+chapter+in+my+life+that+is+going+to+end+and+therefore%2C+a+new+one+will+begin.%E2%80%9D
Valedictorian and salutatorian, Yadira Nava and Jorge Rodriguez, are both planning on continuing their education at a four-year university. Nava plans on attending UC Davis and goes on to say, “I feel accomplished, yet sad and excited all at the same time. We’re all taking our separate paths, but I’m excited to see what the future has for each individual.” While Rodriguez plans on attending Pomona College commenting, “I am very excited to leave high school because it is finally a chapter in my life that is going to end and therefore, a new one will begin.”

Valedictorian and salutatorian, Yadira Nava and Jorge Rodriguez, are both planning on continuing their education at a four-year university. Nava plans on attending UC Davis and goes on to say, “I feel accomplished, yet sad and excited all at the same time. We’re all taking our separate paths, but I’m excited to see what the future has for each individual.” While Rodriguez plans on attending Pomona College commenting, “I am very excited to leave high school because it is finally a chapter in my life that is going to end and therefore, a new one will begin.”

Valedictorian and salutatorian, Yadira Nava and Jorge Rodriguez, are both planning on continuing their education at a four-year university. Nava plans on attending UC Davis and goes on to say, “I feel accomplished, yet sad and excited all at the same time. We’re all taking our separate paths, but I’m excited to see what the future has for each individual.” While Rodriguez plans on attending Pomona College commenting, “I am very excited to leave high school because it is finally a chapter in my life that is going to end and therefore, a new one will begin.”

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Yadira Nava and Jorge Rodriguez are Alisal’s class of 2017 valedictorian and salutatorian. Unlike many students who earn the titles, Nava and Rodriguez worked to prove something to themselves, to prove they could get through school gaining as much knowledge as possible and still be able maintain top grades without sacrificing anything.  

The valedictorian, Yadira Nava, leads the senior class with the highest GPA of 4.307. Nava’s reaction and her family’s were completely opposite, she said, “Hearing I was valedictorian was just okay. It just goes to show the effort I put in my academics. My mom was a different story. She was extremely proud of me and it warmed my heart knowing I made her proud. Because of my mom and the sacrifices she has made for me, I am always putting in tremendous amounts of effort in the things I do.” She emphasizes that her family has had a huge impact on her effort, as well her obvious excellence in and out of school. She has been awarded multiple scholarships and awards including Setting the Bar award, the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) scholarship, a LULAC scholarship, the Elk’s Lodge scholarship, and a McDonald’s scholarship. The scholarships gave her a total of about $3,000 dollars in scholarships alone. She was also heavily involved in community service activities, like volunteering at the Salvation Army and helping build Tatum’s Garden, a park that is fully inclusive and accessible to children of all abilities, located in South Salinas.

Similarly, Jorge Rodriguez, this year’s salutatorian, was not planning on becoming salutatorian. He holds the second highest GPA with a 4.268. After hearing he was the salutatorian, he was indifferent to the news, but was proud of himself that he was able to achieve this recognition. He said, “Quite honestly my friends were more happy for me than my parents were. The only factor that drives me is my desire to be free from all of this. This being the daily struggles of becoming someone who I am not, becoming a different person as soon as a particular person speaks to me; it is ultimately the desire to be myself and be free and independent.” Rodriguez’s main goal was to graduate high school with as much knowledge as he could possess, to fully gain the high school experience. As well as being able to leave high school with more preparation than most in our community and apply it to the college life. The activities that impacted him most were all SUHSD Japanese clubs he has joined, from his freshman year to now. He also received awards and scholarships, among these were being a finalist for the All USA High School Japanese Speech Contest, 2nd place and the Judge’s Award in the 11th Annual Monterey County Japanese Speech Contest, 2nd place in the MESA Regionals for the Team Math and Rube Goldberg Machine, the Setting The Bar award for the month of April. As of right now he has received the LULAC scholarship, California Strawberry Commission scholarship, and TheDream.US National scholarship. He has received about $31,600 dollars in scholarships alone.

Both valedictorian and salutatorian had to choose their Most Influential Teacher. Nava chose her AVID teacher, Mrs. Diana Huerta. In Nava’s eyes, Huerta was a sort of second mom to her. She really cared for all her students and truly tried to help when she needed some advice, and Nava genuinely appreciated that. On a trip to UCSD, they would jokingly call her “mom”, but it was soon after she realized she meant it in the sense that she felt she cared for her as if she really was her daughter. Huerta was truly humbled and grateful that she had been chosen by Nava. She felt undeserving and unworthy of such an award. She said, “When I met her her junior year, I didn’t realize she was a first year AVID student. She was always on top of her work, a go-getter, and asked questions. She had “AVID skills”, that are usually taught, innately. She is incredibly intelligent, humble, kind, inquisitive, and patient.” Huerta is extremely proud of Nava and admires her greatly for her resilience in her real world issues and circumstances. She’s proud that she didn’t let her circumstances define her and for becoming strong because of them. She hopes that Yadira takes her energy and contributes to making the world a better place and hopefully make a medical breakthrough. Huerta know she will do great things in the future and wishes her nothing but the best.

Rodriguez’s most influential teacher was Dr. Natalie Bernasconi. Unlike Huerta and Nava, Rodriguez and Bernasconi go way back to middle school. Bernasconi was his teacher in middle school, as well as freshman year. Rodriguez chose her as his most influential teacher because she has followed him throughout middle school and was the first person ever to believe in him and accept him for who he is. Bernasconi said, “I’ve known him since middle school, he was very shy and quiet. And since then it has been incredible to watch him flower, gain in confidence in his work and himself. He has amazing skills and he was always top achieving year after year, I was very proud to watch him grow as a person. When I found out he chose me I was humbled and shocked. I was very grateful, and it was an inspiring and humbling moment. Jorge is high achieving, well-rounded, and has various skills, like being quadrilingual. He shows his “ganas” and “corazon” and truly epitomizes an Alisal Trojan, it’s a testimonial and evident in his 4 years. He always had high priority in academics, and his confidence has grown immensely. Him joining cross country, track, and starting the Vegan Club shows the rich variety of skills and talents he has and the confidence he has acquired. He was always distinguished in academics, but now in other things, Jorge exemplifies the “Be Yourself” statement he has been so greatly a part of and I am so proud.”

Next year, Nava plans to attend UC Davis, majoring in neurobiological physiology and behavior. She chose Davis because of the financial aid she received and it felt like home. She said that the people and programs were, “friendly and supportive.” She liked that there was Chicano centered housing. This center is new and she was excited and intrigued by it, she’d be the first class to enter the program and be there from the start, hopefully to help build it up as well. She hopes to meet students that share similar interests as her and build great friendships. She also liked the safe environment and the comfortable feeling she got when visiting UC Davis multiple times. Nava will be studying to become a neurosurgeon. She said, “As a little girl I said I wanted to be a cat, but when I learned it was physically impossible I knew I wanted to become a doctor. I grew up with a close family member who suffers from bipolar disorder and I wanted to help them, so I began reading encyclopedias about the brain and its beautiful ways. After that, I knew I wanted to become a neurologist, so I can help people who suffer from the disorder this person suffers from.” Her biggest influence was her family in both academics and her future. Nava is excited to enter this next chapter in her life and is sure she’ll strive to achieve her goal in helping out her family and others.

Next year, Rodriguez also plans on attending a 4-year university, Pomona College. He plans on majoring in computer science, with a minor in Japanese. He said, “I chose this school because, at this point, I am attending with a full ride because of their generous financial aid as well as some scholarships I have received so far. I choose this school because it is a private school which means they are more willing to help people like me, DACAmented students (“Dreamers”), and also because they have everything established as in they have study abroad programs, clubs and sports I am interested, a great location, and, most importantly, vegan food.” He chose this route because it was always the idea he had since he knew what he wanted to become. He was still unsure, but after confirming with Mr. Incze, Alisal’s Robotics teacher, he said, “In order to be able to work with mobile technology, as well as software, one needs to study computer science.” Then Jorge felt pretty confident that this was the major for him.

On May 25, graduation day, both Nava and Rodriguez are required to make a speech to their classmates of four years. The speeches usually reflect back on their last four years attending Alisal High School, and words of encouragement to their peers in their future endeavors. Nava plans on basing her speech around the quote, “In order to make change you must be leaders of the movement and not followers of the injustice.” Meanwhile, Rodriguez plans on, “reiterating the words of advice that struck me or had an impact on me that my teachers have bestowed upon me. That and the importance of just being true to oneself and self-acceptance in this ever changing world. Also because of Sensei, I might include some Japanese just to make her happy.”

Now that the time is near to deliver their speeches and officially leave high school, both are reflecting on their past four years and what they’ve learned and what they’ll miss the most about Alisal. Nava says, “I learned to always work hard for what I want, because it’s never handed to you. I’m going to miss the people I have become close to.” According to Rodriguez, he learned to remain humble, and “hungry”, patient, optimistic, open-minded, but most importantly, he learned to keep moving forward no matter what. He added, “During high school I learned that not everything is always what it seems and that trust really should be earned more than should be given. The only thing I will miss about high school is the simplicity of it and my teachers with whom I have associated closely with.” Both Nava and Rodriguez are excited for this bittersweet moment and cannot wait to further their education and see what the future holds for them.  

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Working for themselves