By DAVID LOPEZ
Two very different approaches to academic excellence were pursued by Maverick Raven Reza and Ariel Raine Garcia, the San Benito High School 2019 graduating class Valedictorian and Salutatorian.
Maverick Reza, Valedictorian, admits he was not the best student his first two years of high school, when he dedicated more attention to football.
“I didn’t really care too much at first, but I had a teacher tell me I had a shot, so junior year I made the big decision to quit football and that was when I really focused on school,” said Reza. “I realized I was number one by the end of junior year.”
Salutatorian Ariel Garcia, on the other hand, was aware of her ranking and academic goals since freshman year.
“After freshman year I wasn’t too happy with my ranking, so after that every year I tried to get a 95 and above in each class,” she said. “I was also in varsity softball and volleyball but quit softball after sophomore year. After that I’d always been in top ten but it wasn’t until the last updated ranking that I became number two.”
Reza is attending UT Austin to become a Bio-Chemistry major while Ariel Garcia will be attending the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to study Biomedical Science. Both plan on pursuing a medical career.
Both students had to quit the medical career pathway at the high school in order to focus on academics. They both admit becoming part of the top 10 required sacrificing activities like sports and, in their case, volunteering in the medical field.
“I had to completely cut the medical pathway here at school,” said Garcia. “It was a tough decision because I want to go into a medical career but I have never dipped my feet in the water. All the other students have been able to go to the hospital for clinicals and I’ve never been able to experience what it’s actually like,” she said.
However, both students have maintained a commitment to extracurriculars outside of class. Reza was involved in chess, Rho Kappa, Mu Alpha Theta, and Astronomy club. Garcia also participated in Mu Alpha Theta and Astronomy Club as well as National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, and Yearbook. She also acted as Senior Class President.
Both high achievers look forward to the freedoms and challenges that come from university life, including making their own schedules and meeting new people. However, both admit the place San Benito and the Rio Grande Valley hold in their hearts.
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