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RNY Billboard Showcase 2019

Each year Yuma Union High School District selects 12 students to represent Ready Now Yuma on billboards throughout Yuma County. The 12 students (one male and one female from each of the district's six high schools) are all seniors, who will graduate as part of the Class of 2019. 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 as well as video interviews: 

Karen -- Cibola High School

Karen, CHS 2019

Although it feels like I was a freshman only moments ago, I’ve grown tremendously during my time as a high school student. The time has almost come for my classmates and I to walk the line and start our new beginnings. As I reflect on my time at Cibola High School, I am so grateful for everything this school had to offer me because it better prepared me for my future education and career.

Although my life at home was dim and difficult for me, I wanted to take as many opportunities as I could to make my experience at Cibola the best. I joined numerous clubs and put in effort to actively partake in my school.  The most rewarding experiences however came from two organizations that will forever impact my life: Student Council and Future Farmers of America (FFA). Although both these clubs may seem very different, they both heavily focused on leadership. I attended numerous leadership conferences because of these two clubs that Cibola High School has to offer. Through student council I was able to attend the Region 6 Vision Conference, a national student council conference that influenced my growth. One of the most important things I learned here is that the best leaders lead to inspire others. Through FFA I was able to attend leadership conferences such as this year’s State Spring Conference where I competed in the Vet Science Career Development Event. By studying and working with a team, we were able to place second in the state. Whether it was learning about leadership or practicing leadership skills, these two clubs have better prepared me for my future education, career, and life.

The community of people I have encountered during my time at Cibola have positively impacted my life forever. Over the past four years I’ve had amazing teachers, coaches, advisors, administrators, peers, and counselors. One example of a great leader at Cibola High School would be retired Vice Principal Lisa  Domby. I’ve always admired her positive attitude and shining spirit which made our campus a happier place. She has inspired me to become a better and more spirited leader on campus. Cibola is made up of staff who not only serve as positive influences, but motivate students to become the best version of themselves. Throughout my senior year of high school, I’ve needed motivation in my life to reach my goals. My guidance counselor, Kari Lofton, was one of my biggest motivators this year. She has made me realize my self-worth and has given me the confidence I needed to apply for so many scholarships. Because of the many positive and motivating individuals within Cibola High School, I am better prepared to continue my education in order to achieve my dream of becoming a veterinarian.

It’s almost time for me to finish my time in high school and move onto the great things this school has prepared me to do. The next step in my education is to attend the University of Arizona to study Animal Science and minor in Pre-Veterinary Science. Because of my time at Cibola, I feel better prepared for my educational future. I am honored to represent the class of 2019, Cibola High School, and Yuma Union High School District.

Keven -- Gila Ridge High School


What can I say? High school has been one great experience. It is similar to a rollercoaster, sometimes you could be doing great, at the top, while at other times, you are trying to bring yourself to the top. Personally, these past four years at Gila Ridge High School has prepared me to pursue my education at a higher level in order to have a successful career and life. From being encouraged to take higher level classes, such as Advanced Placement classes, to just the occasional talk with teachers about grades. Past graduation, there will be no more constant reminders from our teachers, and it’ll be time for me and my fellow classmates to enter the real world and take our own steps.

As graduation approaches the next step after high school, for me, would be to attend Arizona Western College, where I want to complete my generals for my Associates Degree. Next, the plan is to transfer to an in-state university, where I can attain a bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security. At this point in my life, I am truly excited for the very-soon future. Although it won’t be easy, it is nothing I can’t accomplish, as long as I make the right decisions.

First and foremost, I want to thank all of the staff at Gila Ridge that I have met, talked to or have had as teachers. There would be no other high school that I would rather have gone to. This was the high school for me, as well as for most of my fellow classmates for four years. Personally, I want to thank my counselor, Danny Marron, as he has guided me throughout my whole high school experience, giving me great advice on what classes to take, giving me options on what I could do, as well as getting me involved in taking college classes during high school. To my friends, I can’t thank you enough for your support. To my family, I could not have done it without you guys. Although I would think your advice was wrong, it always turned out to be the way you guys said it. Throughout these years, I have become a young adult who has learned that my parents are truly the best guidance, giving me all the support and love that I needed and need. For all of my classmates of 2019, it’s time to pave our way independently, make the best decisions possible to commence our future and reach our goals in life.

Leilani -- Kofa High School


I cultivated my dream to succeed from a young age.  My mother was a single mother who didn’t have an education. She went from job to job struggling to provide for me and my sister.  I witnessed my mother’s deep exhaustion from work and the strain from financial struggles my family went through for years. My mother always encouraged me and my sister to put effort into our schooling.  I took her advice to heart. I decided that I was going to create a better future for me and my family through education: the universal door of opportunity.

As long as I can remember, I did well in school.  But when high school came along, I felt that I needed to push myself harder to be ready for my next chapter: college.  Kofa High School provided me with the educational resources and extensive support I needed to accomplish this.

During my freshman year, I was encouraged to take an Advanced Placement class.  These classes were said to be challenging, but that the difficulty develops college-level skills.  I took the challenge. My first semester in an AP course proved strenuous as it was different from any class I took before.  However, it became easier as I developed better study habits, organization, and critical thinking. Additionally, my teacher was always available whenever I needed help.  When the AP exam day arrived, I felt ready. I would later learn that I passed the exam with a top score! The next three years I took more and more AP classes, each one easier with the skills I developed and with the aid of my teachers.  And it was through my AP Physics and Calculus classes where my interest in engineering was sparked. I now feel more college ready after taking my AP courses.

My extracurriculars, too, have proved essential in my academic journey.  I joined the chess team in freshman year. There, I found a family and learned the importance of constant practice and strong teamwork.  In the National Honor Society, we strove to follow the four pillars of NHS: Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character. In Key club, I spent many hours volunteering with organizations like the Crossroads Mission, Salvation Army, the Sunrise Optimist Club, and more. I found a passion for helping others and giving back to my community.

Now my college chapter is fast approaching.  My high school years, filled with hard work and ambition, has accumulated into three letters I received in March: Harvard, Yale, and Columbia university acceptances.  It was tedious, but I poured my heart and soul into my applications; now I reached the stars. I have yet to make my decision, but I plan to study to become an Environmental Engineer.  

I want to thank my family, my community, and Kofa High School for this amazing journey.  With them, I was able to achieve my dream of opening a door to a brighter future.

Luis -- San Luis High School


In my family, I’m the youngest of 5 children, which is not a very pleasant situation when it comes to the acquisition of personal belongings. However, during my adolescence, I quickly realized that being the youngest wasn’t as bad as I had perceived it to be. Gradually, I interpreted and learned from the errors and slip-ups of my siblings, and when I was presented with an opportunity I was always prepared.

Currently, two of my siblings are finishing their masters at Northern Arizona University, which really sets high expectations for myself and my future. Fortunately, this is not an obstacle for me. Instead, I see it as a promising confrontation of the many aspects of life that hinder my overall advancement. I see an opportunity to overcome my own fears; such fears that sometimes paralyze and prevent people from the realization of what they’re truly capable of. This sense of challenge has had a tremendously positive impact on the way I regard my ambitions, as I am always focused on obtaining the best of every educational experience, but more so outside of a classroom environment when I observe how the professional world functions and direct it in beneficial ways. Constantly having in mind that one day I will be in a similar position is an incredibly encouraging prospect for me and especially for those around me.

Academically, I’m planning to attend Arizona State University to further my studies and have the resources and tools to grasp my full potential. Civil engineering is the career I will be pursuing, a very difficult field due to the emphasis on physics, calculus, chemistry, etc. Essentially, in my personal opinion, some of the hardest courses. However, with enough discipline and dedication, I’m sure I will overcome these constraints and obstacles. My goal is to complete my degree within 4 or 5 years with experience, ready to enter the workforce and apply myself to something bigger.  Subsequent to graduation, I plan to return to my hometown or San Luis, Arizona and work for the city. San Luis is a developing town with enormous potential for growth. It is a pleasant surprise to see how much it has grown over the past few years- spiritually and professionally. Working for the city will allow me to convey ideas from a point of view of a lifetime resident, maximizing my influence on the different ways the city thrives. There are a variety and culmination of problems that need attention in San Luis that I one day hope to help in alleviating, thus ensuring the welfare of a town characterized by durability, culture, and the struggle for a better life.

Rubi -- Vista High School


Throughout my high school years at Vista High School, I have taken classes that have prepared me for college and a future career. Financial algebra has efficiently prepared me with tax form skills using case scenarios based on real-life experiences. Along with learning about independent living such as the processes of purchasing a home and mortgage application procedures. The courses at VHS have prepared me to take the right path whenever choosing a job and thinking about my future goals.

My next step in education is to attend Arizona Western College in San Luis, Arizona. My plan is to complete my general education classes. After I complete my general studies, I want to focus my education in the area of Criminal Justice. In the meantime I’m willing to serve as a volunteer in any area that will help me with my future career. Moreover, my plans after high school also consist of obtaining a part-time job, if possible in the community where I reside.

My family and my 1-year-old daughter have been a motivation for me to complete high school. My grandparents who took custody of me when I was a baby, have pushed me to look for alternatives and succeed educationally. They take care of my daughter while I am at school, and they also support me financially to fulfill mine and my daughter’s needs.  On the other hand, my other motivation has been my daughter.

As a young adult it is definitely not easy to wake up early after being awake in the middle of the night. It is also not easy to get home and still have to cook, and watch over a child and then do homework late at night after she falls asleep. However, she has become my priority and my biggest motivation to become someone effective in this world. Although my educational path has not been easy, my goal is to graduate and give back to my family and daughter.

All my family has been a positive influence throughout my education. However, there is one special person who has pushed me an extra step and is also my role model. My aunt, Juanita Cabrera, is the first one in my family who has graduated from a university. She recently graduated with her Masters Degree in Special Education from Grand Canyon University. She is now a highly qualified teacher and has her own classroom. Knowing about her first experience in college, without having anyone to guide her, makes me feel fortunate to have her around.

My aunt has been a great resource when it comes to doing my homework, choosing a career, and learning to find resources. Furthermore, she has encouraged me to explore my interest that will help me choose the right career. Overall, she has prepared me with the necessary resources that will guide me in college such as financial aid, scholarships, and courses. After seeing my aunt succeed, I feel inspired to graduate from college and a university.

Anthony -- Yuma High School


High school has definitely made a huge impact on me. These last four years have played a significant role in making me the person I am today. I have learned the importance of social interactions, how to plan ahead and take the necessary steps to achieve my goals, and I have found my many motivating factors that essentially carried me throughout my high school experience. 

My high school experience consisted of social interactions and essential people skills. I was the host of an outside bible study group where I made friends with a lot of people. I was the associate editor-in-chief of the school newspaper which taught me how to effectively communicate with others. And I was in many clubs where I held a leadership position. This all taught me vital skills that I know will be crucial as I begin to pursue higher education at the University of Arizona. Being social and learning these skills has been very beneficial in high school so I can only imagine how it will continue to pay off in college.

My next step is to attend the University of Arizona where I will be majoring in physiology as a pre-med student, but that is only scratching the surface of what steps I wish to take. I want to join or even start a club, volunteer at hospitals and shelters, shadow physicians, and study abroad. I hope that this will all act as a huge stepping stone towards my acceptance at a top medical school. My dream is to become a trauma surgeon, so I will continue to take as many steps as needed to make that dream a reality.

Throughout my high school experience my parents, friends, and family have motivated me to achieve all of my goals. I have also met many teachers and staff members that have helped me stay in hot pursuit of my dreams. Quotes have never been a motivating factor since often I find them quite cringeworthy, but a quote from my favorite comedian, Joey Diaz, is engraved in my mind and serves as a constant form of motivation. “If you’re walking on thin ice you might as well dance.” It’s difficult for me to pinpoint one major thing that motivates me, but I am confident that all of these factors, big or small,  work in unison to motivate me.

All in all, high school has been an unforgettable time full of many lessons and experiences that I know I can look back on and appreciate. Although I have a long way to go until I reach my dream of becoming a doctor, I hope to carry with me the knowledge gained from social interactions, the lessons that every step I took came with, and most importantly I hope to never lose my motivation.

Joshua -- Cibola High School


When looking back to my high school experience, I look back to all the opportunities that Cibola High School has given me throughout the years. It shows quite well that Cibola has a priority on preparing their students for their future especially in their approach to exposing the students to new topics in the world and how they can pursue them. When I first entered high school I was planning on entering Law Enforcement. I was able to enroll in the Law and Public Safety Career & Technical Education (CTE) course my freshman year and I learned the knowledge and skills that come with the profession.

Throughout high school I became more and more interested in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) subjects. Every year I was able to compete in science fairs with my work in pharmacology. I was able to progress through the competition levels and I was able to compete in SARSEF and AzSEF, I even won a Grand Award at SARSEF in Chemical and Biochemical Sciences. At Cibola, I was able to take higher level science courses including Advanced Placement (AP) Biology and AP Chemistry which gave me an idea what to expect from higher level courses in the subject.

The teaching staff at Cibola have been some of my biggest supporters throughout my high school experience. Three people that have impacted me the most include Mari Echols, Dennis Nielsen, and Loren Simpson. My freshman biology teacher, Mrs. Echols, sparked my interest in science and she has help guide me towards accomplishing tasks such as my projects and becoming selected for the KEYS Internship where I interned in a genetics lab under the University of Arizona. Mr. Nielsen was my basketball coach, and in addition to basketball he taught me skills to succeed on and off the court. He taught me the value of a hard work ethic and how to have confidence in myself; without these skills I would not be in the spot I am today. Mrs. Simpson is the Student Council Advisor and my Education Professions teacher. She has assisted me in my duty of Student Body President and she has always made herself available to ensure the success of Cibola’s Student Council. As the Education Professions teacher she helped me discover that I love teaching and helped me to become to first student in Cibola history to qualify to compete in the National Educators Rising Competition.

I plan on attending the University of Arizona and studying Chemistry. I would like to eventually earn a PhD and work in Pharmacology or Genetics. My ultimate goal in life is to help people and I hope one day to use my skills and education to ensure that. Cibola High School has held a very large role in setting me up for success. Through providing students the opportunity to explore new interests and the materials needed to succeed, Cibola has a priority on preparing students for the future and I know I am ready to tackle the next step of life.

Mia -- Gila Ridge High School


High school is a perfect time to start learning and developing new skills to prepare yourself for the future. By getting involved and pushing yourself academically, it will only benefit you in the long run. My experience in Advanced Placement and Career & Technical Education courses at Gila Ridge High School has allowed me to develop  important skills such as time management, stress management, communication, and good study habits. Also, being involved in athletics and other extra curricular activities such as HOSA throughout high school has taught me patience, work ethic and teamwork. I was able to balance a busy schedule while maintaining a good GPA, which will be a key skill to have in college. Not only do I feel prepared for my future, but I am confident I will be successful in my next step at Grand Canyon University.

In the fall I will be attending GCU to continue my athletic and academic career. I am going to major in mechanical engineering and minor in business, while working towards an internship for an engineering company. My hope is to eventually start up my own engineering firm and partner with a civil engineer. My motivation throughout high school was an aspiration to receive a full scholarship to attend a Division I university. I want to have an impact on my community and make a difference in the world. In order to attain these desires I knew I could never give up, no matter what obstacles were thrown in my path. For example, I broke my right hand and wasn’t able to use it for two months. Being that I am right hand dominant, classes got pretty difficult and it was often discouraging. However, things started looking up for about a week and then I tore my anterior cruciate ligament in the beginning of soccer season. This put me out for not only soccer, but track and field, too. It was very disheartening knowing that my senior year has been filled with such pain and heartache. But without those events occurring I wouldn’t have developed perseverance and determination through my own personal experience. This pushed me to work hard in class and on the track to achieve my dreams and I will continue to work hard and stay persistent at GCU.

However, I couldn’t of done this alone. I have had many role models in high school such as my teachers, counselors and coaches. Without these significant people I would’ve never developed any of the necessary skills needed to be successful. They have always had my best interest and they taught me everything I know. Even through my highest highs and lowest lows, I could count on them to be there for me and that was the most humbling experience.

Julio -- Kofa High School


My high school experience has prepared me for college in numerous of ways. I managed my time in school and I took opportunities that would benefit me in the future. Kofa offered Career & Technical Education courses and I took advantage. I want to pursue a career in Law Enforcement, so I took the “Law and Public Safety” class which was one of the best decisions I made in my high school career. I learned a great amount of information about the career I want to pursue and I also met one of the most influential teachers at Kofa High School (Mrs. Jennifer Miller). My counselor, Ms. Kathy Ingersoll, also prepared me for college by keeping me on track. She always managed to inform me about scholarship opportunities and she always lifted up my confidence by reminding me to keep up the “awesome work.” Kofa has been a huge help with my education and my career path to college. I can’t thank Kofa enough for what the school has done for me.

The next step in my education is to get a headstart in college by taking classes over the summer. I want to get through my generals as soon as possible so I can mainly focus on my career. My parents and I have taken time to create a college schedule of the classes I need to pursue my career. Therefore, I could have a plan ready to go once I’m enrolled full time in Arizona Western College. I have gotten plenty of advice from Law Enforcement officers which helped me strategize my plan. I got advice from CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers, Border patrol agents, and Yuma Police Department officers on steps to entering the career of Law Enforcement. They all managed to tell me to finish school first and then pursue a job in the field, which is the advice I’m going to take.

Throughout my high school career, there has been a variety of motivations. One motivation would definitely be grades. However, my Freshman and Sophomore years were kind of just focused on passing with A’s and B’s. In my Junior year, I gave myself the confidence of doing more and achieving what I can actually do. I put more effort in classes and I managed my time wisely. Consequently, I passed the entire year with straight A’s. I have continued that through the first semester of my Senior year and hope to finish off the second semester the same. My main motivation for high school was baseball. Baseball is what I loved most about my high school experience. It managed to motivate me about my grades and in tough times. It would relieve the stress I had on my shoulders. The coaches were always supportive in and off the field. The Varsity baseball coach for Kofa High School (Mr. Richy Leon) was strict on eligibility. I took that as a motivation to keep my grades up. If I were ineligible, that would mean I was letting my team down. Therefore, I always managed to keep my grades up and above average.

Kofa teachers were always a positive influence for me to complete high school. I’ve always had great relationships with them. They were always helpful to me as a student, in and out of the classroom. My counselor took a big part as a positive influence to finishing high school. She always had a positive attitude and she always pushed me to do better. She helped me with not only my grades, but with situations in my classes. She was a major influence to me in my high school career. The biggest positive influences for me to finish high school have been my parents. My parents have always pushed me to do better and they have never given up on me. They are always there to give me a helping hand and to remind me of how important school is. There is never a time where my parents have not mentioned that school is important. They give me lectures on their life lessons in school and I always manage to build from them. They are now more excited for me to finish high school and start my life and career. I know my parents are proud of me, that is why I’m taking this as motivation to build towards my future.

Cassandra -- San Luis High School


There are an immense number of things that have a positive influence in assisting me while in high school and that have helped me feel prepared for college and career, but one of them that I can easily call upon is my mother.

While growing up, my mother has always motivated me to look up for the next step in my life and helped me feel prepared for big decisions. The idea of college has become easier because of her advice and unconditional support towards my education and future. She has taught me that anything is possible if I set my mind to it and that I can do even beyond if I desire to and if I work hard for it. I am grateful to be influenced by her enthusiasm that helped and still helps me grow as a person and as a student, be able to see things on a more developed and mature way that not only is going to assist me in college, but in life.

These four years of high school I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people that have helped me feel prepared for college. I am also grateful for them. Friends and family have influenced me to achieve my goals. They are the push in my life, being with them I can naturally bring the best of me. I feel joy and happiness when I am surrounded by them. Overall, high school has been a great experience. Downfalls and strumblings have taught me to do better. The most important thing is that I have learned from those hard times. Family and friends have made a huge impact to where I am right now. I am grateful that I have learned from the people I love and care. They assisted me to look up for my dreams and do not give up on them. College will bring a new path for me that because of my family’s and friends’ motivation and their positive influence they will assist me to be more than ready and prepared for college.

Kobe -- Vista High School


I first started alternative schooling my sophomore year where I began to attend Strategies for Success for some mistakes that I had made at my home school. I eventually moved onto the main campus of Vista High School after SFS. When I first attended, I wasn’t doing well in school and I wasn’t motivated to try or even come to school, but the staff at SFS and VHS never gave up on me. The teachers would be hard on me about my work and also about me graduating, but like every other kid I never really paid attention to them.

As the year went on, I started to make progress with my grades and previous credits that I had missed. I started to realize what I needed to do, but I still would be childish and goof off in my classes. After that school year went by, I had went back to my home school for my junior year and I started to fail once again. Little by little, my grades would drop because I never understood what the teachers were telling us. Another incident happened and once again I began to attend SFS. In my junior year at SFS, that was where everything changed. The staff knew me already so they were extra hard on me especially cause they knew how much I wanted to graduate for my mom.

They gave me all the classes I needed the previous years before on A-plus and ELP programs which I was able to get done by the middle of the year. I matured and made progress and then started to realize that all the ‘goofing off’ wasn’t worth missing out on my high school diploma. Now as a senior at the VHS campus I look back at all the things that I have accomplished and all the classes I have passed and feel proud. I can gladly say that I wouldn’t be on the road to graduate in May 2019 if it wasn’t for all the people at Vista, both teachers and staff. I appreciate all my previous teachers and the ones I have now for pushing me and helping me whenever I had a bump in the road; I wouldn’t have got here without that support.

Isabellah -- Yuma High School


High school has been a great part of my life. It has been very fun. I made a lot of new friends through sports and clubs. High school was not only fun, it was educational.  I learned about many different topics relating to school material, but one major thing I learned about was the benefits of a healthy competition. The healthy competition that I have had with my twin sister, Jwliannah, has been my motivation to do my best in my high school career. This great experience has helped me learn all the different options that are available for after high school. I also figured out what it is that I want to do after graduating; thanks to the classes that I took through the years.  

There have been many things motivating me to do well in school, but my twin has been my greatest motivation. My twin sister and I have a really close relationship, but that doesn’t stop us from constantly competing all the time. We always try to do better than each other in our grades and in sports. We are each other’s motivation to always improve. My sister doesn’t just compete with me, she also helps me whenever I am stuck or am having trouble with my work. She also constantly reminds me that it is important to always try my best.

Along with the core classes, I took a few CTE (Career &Technical Education) classes.  Some of the classes I took were construction, engineering and sports medicine. All of these classes taught me many different options that are possibilities for my future. Each one of these classes taught me distinct skills.  In construction I learned how to do electrical work and framing. Engineering introduced me to the excel program and robotics. In sports medicine I learned all about the muscles and the bones in the body and I became fascinated with all the medical terminology that I had to learn.  

Taking all of these classes helped me make up my mind that I want to continue my education. I decided to combine my love for engineering and my fascination for learning about the human body and go to college to study biomedical engineering. My post-graduation plan is to study biomedical engineering at the University of Arizona. This school has many opportunities to engage in internships that are related to my future career goals and I plan to take advantage of these opportunities to ready myself for the future.  

All together, I would like to say that Yuma High School has taught me more than just high school. I learned that healthy competition is always good to push yourself to do your best. My experiences led to my decision of going to the University of Arizona and to choose my major of biomedical engineering.