RNY Billboard Showcase 2021
Each year Yuma Union High School District selects 12 students to represent Ready Now Yuma on billboards throughout Yuma County. The 12 students (two from each of the district's six high schools) are all seniors, who will graduate as part of the Class of 2021. They imbue the overall goals of Ready Now Yuma, which strives to prepare EVERY student in YUHSD for career, college, and the community during their high school years. Below are personal essays each student shared as part of the selection process:
Jethzly -- Yuma High School
As George Bernard Shaw said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
My high school years have been filled with both positive and negative experiences that shaped me into the person I am today. As a migrant student, I moved from California to Arizona and I began my life-changing experience as a freshman in high school. I let the child inside me take over and for attention, I made several poor decisions including not caring about my grades, talking back to my teachers, and acting the polar opposite of who I had always been. I believed I was that freshman that all teachers despised. As I reflect on my high school years, I regret that I was satisfied with Cs and Ds even though I knew I was capable of being a better student and a better person. I'm beyond grateful for the opportunities that allowed me to grow up and become the person I am today.
"High school taught me how to identify my voice and how to use it to make a significant impact."
During my sophomore year, I transferred to Yuma High School and began from scratch, which opened numerous doors. The opportunities offered at Yuma High School had a tremendous influence on me both academically and personally. Everyone, including teachers, administrators, classmates, advisors, and counselors, helped me discover who I desired to be. I became more diligent, a better student and took advantage of every opportunity to become the student I am today. For example, I took leadership positions in my Career & Technical Education courses and gave it my all in class, which later helped me meet goals I never thought I'd achieve. Changes I made in my behavior during my sophomore year resulted in a memorable junior year. When my junior year began, I was known for my enthusiasm and leadership, which led me to enroll in my first Advanced Placement class, rejoin AVID, and participate in a variety of clubs and organizations. Not only does my transcript represent this significant shift in my attitude, but my experiences at Yuma High School have helped me develop a more positive perspective of life.
Yuma High School sparked the light I'd feared I'd lost. It provided me opportunities to make small improvements in my school and become more engaged in my community. What seemed to be minor adjustments and opportunities resulted in making me college-ready in every way. It helped me figure out who I want to be and what I want to pursue. But, most importantly, it taught me the value of believing in myself and how to learn from my mistakes. By refusing to let my failures define me, I was able to grow into a better version of myself.
High school taught me how to identify my voice and how to use it to make a significant impact.
Anthony -- Vista High School
COVID-19 has impacted the whole world in a tremendous way, and continues to do so. This virus not only drastically affected the community’s way of living, it also resulted in the loss of family, friends, lives, jobs, housing and more. COVID-19 had an immeasurable effect in many people's lives, including mine. During this period of time, I had just started to build up my clientele for my barber career. My opportunity seemed to be wasted since I was incapable of working on my craft.
This tragedy has given me insight that everything can be taken from us and it is up to you whether you let fear come in between your dreams and accomplishments. I have learned a lot about myself and cultivated a growth mindset. I am capable of doing many things. I learned that there is a time and place for everything. There are going to be times where you have fun and times to focus and work on your overall goal. I started seeing outcomes of what a higher degree can do for me and my future. I became more motivated and I expanded my overall goals in life. I believe that not only can I cut hair, but I can expand on that with a college degree to someday start my own business to fulfill dreams for my family and people in need.
Fatima -- San Luis High School
I am pretty sure everyone remembers their first days of high school. The excitement you felt because these are supposed to be some of the best years of your life, just like you see in the movies. Now, with a blink of an eye, we are here on the verge of graduating. Time went by flying and it still is. I feel like I need to grab onto it and ask it to chill for a second. My mind hasn't completely processed that in less than two months there will be no more Class of 2021 and we will all go our separate ways. I feel like I can speak for the majority of this senior class when I say that it has been a long and tough, yet fun journey.
In my personal opinion, these four years changed me, especially this one. It was not even a little bit close to what I thought my senior year would be like. Not being able to take advantage of the last days you have as a high school student, is not cool. However, I have to say that it hasn’t been all that bad. Even in online classes, I met and got closer to a lot of people that I can now consider good friends. I also feel that it prepared me for the next step I’m taking. I will be getting into college with new and improved skills that I had to learn in order to survive this year. The most important lesson I take with me is that sometimes things don’t go as planned, but that is alright. It is in you to know how to see the good side of things and just be happy with what you’ve got.
It is hard not to get a little sentimental writing this essay. I get mixed emotions between sadness, happiness, and I’m not going to lie, a bit scared, too. Memories just came flashing back and I am thankful. I take with me every experience, relationship, friendship, trip, and even my first job, which I really enjoy. It is crucial to have a strong support to get through some of the most important years that will in some way leave a mark. For me, that support has always been my family and in general anyone who has ever believed in me. There are some great people at San Luis High School: teachers, counselors, and staff. I hope that the next generations realize that. I am excited for what is yet to come and grateful to say I’m part of the graduating class of 2021.
Adriel -- Kofa High School
My name is Adriel Felix. I am 17 years old. I will tell a little about who I am and what motivates me every day to be a better person at my young age and overcome obstacles during my childhood and adolescence.
I have suffered from a chronic condition for my whole life, but that does not prevent me from dreaming and yearning to be a professional, have my career, and want to graduate. However I will not lie, it is difficult at times.
My experience in high school has had its ups and downs. I always stay with the positive things. I have lost friends, but I have gained others, and I think that is what life is about. My goal is to be a radiologist technician. That is why I decided to take assistant physician classes and learn more about this career that I like.
My next step is to go to college and continue with this career and try to be the best in the field. My motivation during high school has been my family since they are my greatest support to get ahead day by day, and they help me to want to be someone in life. Also, my motivation is my desire to fulfill my goals.
The best positive influence in my life to want to continue with my dreams is my mother. She is my pillar and guide. She does not give up because she knows I can do it. My grandparents, cousins, and uncles are my examples to follow. They tell me the key is the limits and every day for me is an opportunity to learn, dream and want to be better every day. They help me to believe in myself and believe that I can do things despite my condition. They trust that I will become a good radiologist.
To finish, I thank each teacher, and counselor, who helped me develop as a student, see my potential, and desire to learn. I take great satisfaction in everything I’ve learned from each one of you.
Ruby -- Gila Ridge High School
What has my journey to graduation been like for me? My journey has been a wild ride full of ups and downs. The past few years have been interesting and there are many accomplishments, experiences, and challenges I can reflect on.
For starters, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. With graduation just around the corner I am sad to leave the place that has given me so many opportunities and life lessons. A big part of my high school experience was joining Student Council. I have been an officer all four years and this year I was elected the Class of 2021 President. It has been an honor to serve as the senior class president. Senior year is nothing like I could have imagined but I am thankful for the senior class and teachers that keep me going and motivate me to be a better leader each and every day.
Another remarkable accomplishment would be passing the Arizona state CNA exam. Junior year I served as a Career & Technical Education Ambassador for nursing and I passed Nursing I. In the spring of junior year I got accepted into Nursing II. I had no idea how much work nursing II was going to be but I am forever grateful for the experience. I was able to work with real residents and nurses in a nursing home and it really opened my eyes to the field of nursing. I am excited to have received my CNA license. With the license I can begin working at a nursing home or at the hospital as an LNA. Being a student in the Gila Ridge nursing program really solidified my decision of continuing my education to work in the medical field. After graduation, I plan to attend Arizona Western College to finish my prerequisites needed to apply to the nursing program at AWC. After receiving my Associate's Degree I plan to work towards my BSN at the University of Arizona or Arizona State University and minor in Nursing administration. I wish to become a registered nurse and later become a NICU nurse or work at the pediatric oncology floor in Phoenix.
"I look forward positively and am excited for what is to come."
High school has been a long and hard journey but the people around me, my teachers, counselors, friends, and family were there to constantly push me and let me know I could do it. I especially cannot thank my counselors enough: Mrs. Sonia Rebek and Mr. Daniel Marron. Mrs. Rebek served as my class sponsor for student council twice and her work does not go unnoticed. Not only does she do so much for the Class of 2021, but she does a lot for me. She is always going out of her way to help me with scholarship opportunities. Mr. Marron has been my counsleor all thoughout high school and has also been the Youth for Christ sponsor. I have been blessed to be a part of the Youth for Chirst club the past three years. Senior year has been tough and I often find myself unmotivated and rather alone, but I know I don’t walk this walk alone. God has a purpose and plan for me and I have put my all trust in him. Now, I am counting down the days until graduation. I have moved on from all the setbacks of the pandemic like online school, no activities, and so much more. I look forward positively and am excited for what is to come. What I once remember was four years away, is now just over four weeks away. Time flies when you are having fun.
Tyler -- Cibola High School
In high school, not only will your communication abilities flourish, but your mind will. Between formal conversations with adults, executives, and even government officials, high school provides you so many opportunities. It has provided me opportunities to pursue things I would have otherwise been afraid to. For example, the chance to get involved in the agricultural industry through competitions, shows, and conventions.
Some of the most adverse challenges up to graduation definitely arose from those surprising, unforeseen tragedies. I raise pigs and show them at our county fair and one morning my family woke to a fire raging over the pigs cages. Luckily, our pigs survived but with life-altering effects. When viewing high school as a progressively-developing story, these types of challenges are necessary as turning points and learning moments. I remember my freshman year, when I was graded to give a speech in front of my class, that I was terribly nervous. Looking back, moments like that defined my development and got me to where I am today.
"I am proud to be a Cibola High School alumni encompassing all of the skills I have picked up throughout high school."
Looking forward to my next academic year at the University of Arizona, I am proud to be a Cibola High School alumni encompassing all of the skills I have picked up throughout high school. I want to become an agriculture engineer or scientist and focus on breeding livestock in my future career. This motivation was derived from becoming closer to an idealized role-model version everyday. If we strive for daily improvement, whatever our ventures may be, inevitably we will accomplish a version of ourselves more improved and desirable.
Knowing that my career will be in agriculture, the people that have assisted me the most have been my agriculture and science teachers. All teachers at Cibola maintain professional and personable skills on and off of class hours, which ends up being one of the most day-making traits for me. At Cibola, students experience the difference. Furthermore, the students, teachers, and counselors have always been there for me through high school. I cannot thank everyone enough for constantly supporting me with advice and tips -- I wouldn’t have been able to get through high school without them.
Xavier -- Yuma High School
My high school experience has better prepared me for college and my future career by allowing me to take classes that will help me figure out what I want to do in the future as well as to get a head start on my college degree. The classes I took that helped me determine what I wanted to do in the future were the Business Management Career & Technical Education classes. In these classes, I was able to explore careers in business and gain hands on experience in the Cell Block Student Store and as a Student Worker. College classes that I was able to take at Yuma High School and allowed me to start my college education early include English 101, College Algebra, and Plane Trigonometry. These opportunities challenged me to become a better student.
The next step I am going to take in order to fulfill my education and career goals is to go to college and get a degree in Business Administration. I am planning to attend Grand Canyon University in the fall. I will pay for my college education with the financial aid I have received and also with the scholarships I have earned. After my visit to Grand Canyon’s campus, I knew it was the place for me because it had a friendly, cozy atmosphere. I look forward to being as involved in campus activities at college as I was at Yuma High School.
My Business teacher Ms. Patricia Quezada has been a huge positive influence in helping me feel prepared for my future career and college education. She taught me how to write resumes for jobs and scholarships as well as how to write a personal statement and cover letter. Another lesson I learned from her that will help me immensely in my adult life is the dos and don’ts of a job interview including how to dress for an interview, how to interact with the interviewer, and what to do after an interview. Another person that has helped prepare me for college is my school counselor, Ms. Mary Lynn Coleman, as she is always pushing me to take up challenges whether it be college classes, extracurriculars, or even applying for scholarships to help further my education.
All of my experiences at Yuma High School have made me a more successful student than I was before I started high school. I look forward to becoming a productive member of whatever community I choose to live in after I complete my college education.
Janah -- Vista High School
My high school journey started at another high school. It started off great: seeing new faces, being in a new place, making new friends. I remember when the older kids told me that I would lose friends, I didn’t think it was going to be so many. It’s different for everyone, even though losing friends will also gain you new friends.
There were some good teachers at that school, but not all of them motivated me to do work or to pay attention. When some students and teachers from Vista High School came to my other school around my sophomore year to show students the opportunities available at Vista...man, I couldn’t have been more excited and nervous. Vista seemed like my best shot.
My junior year started at Vista, and I was pretty nervous to take the public bus to school because it was my first time. The one thing I hated about the bus was how crowded it was in the afternoons and how easy it was to be late to school. The good thing about the bus is that you get to meet new people and hear their crazy stories; I always enjoyed them.
The first day at Vista was amazing. I had GREAT teachers; they made me want to come to school every day. I would walk 20 minutes to the bus stop just to come to school every day, and it was so worth it. Every teacher just had a good vibe to them and showed and understood that every student is different and learned differently. I really hate that there’s a lot of students who take advantage of nice teachers, but those students like to be in their own world.
When I started school, college was out of the question, I didn't want to go, but the teachers gave me SO MANY options and explained how college would benefit me. The thing I personally liked the most is that there was a math teacher teaching kids about taxes and billing. In my head, I was so happy that someone is finally teaching about billing and how to do taxes. In my opinion, it should be taught more often, not just to 12th graders.
I was pretty sure I was going to graduate late, but with the encouragement and support from my teachers, I was so motivated and focused to get my credits up and without realizing it, I finished. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m taking my time to do research on colleges I like, and think about what I want to do for the rest of my life. There were disappointments along the way, but I’m grateful for my high school journey.
Daniel -- San Luis High School
I could sit here and say that success was my motivator but I would be simply lying. The ideology I followed throughout my four years of high school is that if I didn’t better myself by the following day, week, month, or year, why was I still in school? If I wasn’t going to build relationships, and make a positive impact, then might as well just find a job and drop out. Essentially, the thought of a challenge and being a good example to my siblings and family is what kept me motivated.
High school helped me be college ready in a variety of ways. However, there is one specific thing I would like to touch on. San Luis High School supplied me with courses that opened my eyes to multiple careers I never would’ve thought I would be interested in. One example of this is Sports Medicine. My freshman year I wasn’t really passionate about anything. However, my sophomore year, when I took Sports Medicine, I immediately found my calling. The course was fun and interactive where I got to engage with athletes after school. To this day, if it wasn’t for God, I wouldn’t have found my passion to be an Athletic Trainer.
"San Luis High School supplied me with courses that opened my eyes to multiple careers I never would’ve thought I would be interested in."
To not carry on listing everyone and everything that helped me complete high school and be ready for college. I am just going to name the one who allowed all of those things and people to be in my life. That glorious being is God, he was the one who allowed me to be where I am today. I am very thankful to him and I owe him everything.
Lastly, I am attending Grand Canyon University (GCU) and pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Athletic Training. You might be asking, why Grand Canyon University? Well the answer is fairly simple, not only do I love the overall mission as an institution, they are the only school with a B.S in Athletic Training. Other schools offer a similar major, however, I would have to wait to obtain my masters in order to practice. Which is not the case for GCU, as soon as I finish my degree I am able to use it as long as I pass the board exam and obtain my certification. After that, I will obtain my masters in Athletic Training.
Maria -- Kofa High School
To have the opportunity to attend high school was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Being the oldest one of my siblings and the first one to actually finish high school without any problem. High School went faster than I expected it to go. In this journey I made a lot of friends. Being a part of this community was one of the best things I could have asked for since in my first year of high school.
My freshman year I was very quiet at class and didn’t participate in much. Also, English is not my first language, so that too contributes to why I was very quiet in class. My first language is Spanish. I learned Spanish from both of my parents, besides, I went to school in Mexico until sixth grade. As a result of that, I started middle school without knowing the language. That was one of the first steps that I took to become who I am today. This had its disadvantages when it came to the pronunciation and grammar of the language, but slowly, I learned and put it into practice.
In my freshman year, I was really scared that my language barrier would kick in and not let me have many friends until I found the Kofa Folkloric Dance Club. When I joined it, it was a club that was just starting. This made us experience the beginning of a friendship and a new family that could share our culture and participate without being judged. The club helped me a lot by teaching me great skills that are going to help me in the future.
“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
After graduating from high school, I plan to attend Arizona State University to major in Language with an emphasis on translation. My decision to get into this field of work is because I know how some people struggle to learn the language and don’t pick it up, making it harder for them to communicate the services they need. I also plan to become fluent in two additional languages, so I can serve more people that need help.
David -- Gila Ridge High School
Everyone else had already left the classroom. No one was drawing dinosaurs on the whiteboard or eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But my parents were still meeting with my preschool teacher, and I could not understand what they were saying, or why.
The word that comes to mind when I think of my life is perseverance. For the first five years of my life, I did not speak English at all. This, along with the trouble I had in understanding social cues often led to poor relationships with my classmates growing up. Eventually, the school evaluated me and realized I had underdeveloped social and self-help skills. Because of that, my parents made it a point to surround me with the educational support I needed to grow past those shortcomings. It was difficult to give my attention to things I was not interested in, but slowly I began to understand others on a more personal level. Even though I still struggle with this sometimes, I realize if I do not spend time with others, life is less meaningful. Building relationships requires hard work on my part, but I continue to discover new levels of happiness and satisfaction when I have a good conversation over lunch or a fun game of volleyball at the park.
Perseverance has kept me in pursuit of my goals even when the struggles have been difficult to overcome. In particular, I have maintained the goal of challenging myself with a rigorous curriculum while engaging in numerous activities. I pursued this goal not because I was after recognition, but because I knew that I could not grow as a person if I took the easy path or if I kept my social circle small. Although there were many nights where I thought about relenting, either in academics or athletics, in retrospect, I am proud of having stuck with my goals to the end.
"Perseverance has kept me in pursuit of my goals even when the struggles have been difficult to overcome."
While it is responsible for my academic success, perseverance led me to challenge myself in other areas of my life. One of these areas was community service. Although I knew community service was valuable, I never placed a premium on it in my own life until the summer of 2018. My church’s youth group sponsors mission trips every summer as a vehicle for students to engage in community service while also spreading the Gospel. The Summer 2018 mission trip took place in the Dominican Republic, where we performed construction work in the mornings and teaching preschoolers as part of their Vacation Bible School in the evenings. Even though the work was difficult, its rewards made the trip more than worthwhile. Seeing the children’s faces light up whenever we were about to play a game, or getting the chance to talk to them about their day motivated me to push through the work when I felt that it was beyond me to keep going. Moreover, this trip served as a reminder that others have not been blessed with as much as I have. Realizing this was the key in changing my thought process about community service, and allowed me to view it as an opportunity for others to gain something rather than an event where I have to give up some of my time.
Where my life would be without perseverance I cannot say. Perhaps most things would turn out fine, if not as well as they have. Nonetheless, I am grateful for having had the opportunity to push myself as much as possible. I can say without a doubt that the lessons I have learned these past four years will serve me well professionally and personally.
Stephanie -- Cibola High School
Throughout my high school experience, my friends and family have guided and encouraged me to become the best version of myself. My parents have always been high achievers, but have not always had the same opportunities as me. My parents immigrated to the United States and had my brother and I. They have continuously pushed us to work our hardest and have always been there for us when we have needed help. High school has also helped me find some amazing people that have made these four years worthwhile. These wonderful friends of mine have created some fun and unforgettable memories that have had a huge impact on my life.
My next step in my education is to go to Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona to major in Nursing while playing softball. My four years of high school have helped me make this decision in multiple ways.
While trying to figure out the classes I wanted to take in high school, I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field but never knew exactly what. I decided to take Sports Medicine, part of the Career & Technical Education program at Cibola, and it opened my eyes to something I enjoyed. I am considered to be really accident prone so I connected with learning about other injuries and how to treat them. I found myself thinking I could go into a career in this. I also decided to go into the Nursing program Cibola High School offers and I earned my CNA certification in the fall of 2020. Both of these courses opened my eyes to a career in helping people, which ultimately helped me decide to major in Nursing. In college, I will also be pursuing my athletic career in softball, which my four years of high school have helped me improve my mental and physical skills. Playing on a different team means a new group of girls along with a different coaching staff. Throughout my four years I’ve had to deal with many different coaching styles and cliques of teammates which has overall made me mentally tough and flexible. All of this will be beneficial in my future educational and career goals.