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RNY Billboard Showcase 2020

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 2020. 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: 

Daniel -- Cibola High School


Before entering high school, I was told by my older siblings that it would fly by. I didn’t realize that four years would seem like a few months and in the next month, I would be graduating. I went into high school already having a plan and knowing the school I wanted to go to. I was going to pursue a degree in Sports Journalism and go to the University of Oregon. 

I kept my journalist dream alive all through high school and continued my college dream up until my senior year. I completely changed my mindset and chose a school I never thought I’d attend.

My dad had attended the University of Arizona and I grew up always holding up a "Bear Down" sign, so when my dad found out I was choosing Arizona State University, he had his opinions about it. He supported me through it though and told me to do what I have to do in order to follow my goal to become a journalist. If it weren’t for AVID, a college preparatory class, I wouldn’t have chosen ASU.

I joined AVID my sophomore year and honestly, I didn’t want to be in it (Sorry, Ms. Palmer). But, I learned year after year, that the class was the only real essential one I was taking. I found out more in my senior year, after doing all of my college applications before the early registration because I knew if I wouldn’t have been in that class, I would’ve lagged on applying. She made scholarships a requirement and graded us on if we did them, which forced me to keep searching and applying. Ms. Palmer was there for me as a teacher and as a friend to help me along my college path. Without her and the college visits she planned for us, I wouldn’t have discovered the possibilities ASU gave to me as a journalist.

Other guidance I received throughout high school was my track coach, Kevin McLean and my boss, Eric Patten. Kevin McLean was my track coach all through high school and he helped and pushed me to earn a big city achievement and led me to state. Although I won’t be pursuing track in college, he gave me much help and gave me opportunities to grow and learn as a person and as an athlete. Eric Patten gave me the opportunity to write and learn how to analyze and construct my own sports articles. He allowed me to learn the basics and be one step ahead when I enter college.

I am proud to be a READY student and I’m excited to be entering the next chapter of my life at the Walter Cronkite Schoolof Journalism at ASU.

Goshlyn -- Gila Ridge High School


When I first started high school, I had no idea what I wanted to be. People told me to become an engineer as I had the skill and the smarts to be one, so I went with that. But when I went to Gila Ridge, I felt like I had more doors opened for me as I was introduced to new activities that I never thought of doing.

Freshman year I took Agriculture. In this class I was able to learn about history, business, welding, building, socializing, the environment, and so much more. The teachers were always friendly and willing to help out a student if they were struggling. It was at this point in my life, that I felt like I found something that I wanted to do. I enjoyed being outside and working in all sorts of jobs. Wilderness Survival was a class similar to the Future Farmers of America (FFA). It taught me to think outside the box and work with the things that I have. It also taught us useful skills like first aid and cooking. It encourages the students to think about their actions and the consequences that come with it. These two classes kept me motivated throughout my high school years, as I was always looking forward to what we were doing that day.

For me, I learn better when I was doing hands-on lessons as it becomes muscle memory. I became more social with kids my age and felt as if it was one big family. Another family I had while in high school, was the Border Patrol Explorers and Girl Scouts. These organizations allowed me to become more confident in myself. I was able to speak with strangers and take a stand for myself, and it got me to exercise. I gained the confidence to stand up for myself, confront a problem when I see one, and I also learned to take responsibility for my actions.

Gila Ridge and all the people associated with it are just one big family that you get to learn from and depend on. This was strongly proven when COVID-19 originally hit. Although no one for sure knew exactly what to do, we helped each other out. We encouraged each other to keep going and to reach our goals. What I learned from Gila Ridge will help me in the long run of life, as I’m now ready to speak and act for myself.

Ricardo -- Kofa High School


Well, to start off, my name is Ricardo Avalos and I graduate on May 22, 2020 from Kofa High School. I am the youngest out of three children and for years I have had many purposes when it comes to computer programming. Throughout my whole high school years, every assignment that I have done helped me a lot. From the first time I was introduced to the Education and Career Action Plan (ECAP), it led me to take a step in planning out for the future of my life.

I am also a Computer Animation 2D & 3D student with Southwest Technical Education District of Yuma (STEDY).  I have now found that Computer Animation has become a high interest of mine and I am considering majoring in Computer Science which requires a Bachelor of Science.  As I research the world of Animation I continue to come across relevant degrees, such as Engineering so I am interested in seeing where my years of college will take me.  I took a Career & Technical Education (CTE) Engineering course and learned a lot, and can see myself as an Engineer as well.  In my now two years in the program I have earned A's and look forward to earning Industry Certification in Adobe After Effects and Autodesk MAYA. 

The next step is to attend Arizona Western College and then transfer to a school that has my major field of study. The greatest reason as to why I am beginning at my local college is the same as that of my peers. AWC is the smart choice for me as it offers us our freshman and sophomore courses at an accessible price. It also allows someone like myself the opportunity to grow as an adult. I will likely transfer to Arizona State University or the University of Arizona to pursue a degree in Computer Animation. After doing that, I will be eligible to get a job that will earn me money so that I can become an independent adult.

I was born with autism.  All of my life I did not realize that I had that kind of disability. I learned about it as a teenager.  I have exhibited different behavior without anyone telling me that I did.  I have one slight difficulty communicating with others. I usually don’t talk to people that much and have been in speech therapy for a couple of years now. I have a lot of friends and enjoy online gaming with others.  Drama club was a great place for me to make good friends.

The use of technology and friendship has greatly motivated me throughout the experience. Every time, I think that I might need help, the internet is always the solution and it is less time consuming. There are a lot of websites that provide useful information or videos that will guide me to success. Being with friends helped me improve my social interaction.  One of my leading characteristics is my punctuality. I have taken AP courses through high school and explored my interests via CTE and Fine Arts classes. As well, as through extracurriculars such as Drama club, Gaming Club and The National Honor Society.  

I would like to thank every teacher and school staff member that has helped me in my life. Their part has led me to become a successful person and start my future.

Sofia -- San Luis High School


My four years at San Luis High School have been the most memorable and unforgettable experiences. Unfortunately, our senior year was cut short, yet the memories will be imprinted forever in my heart. The Class of 2020 will leave a legacy for years to come, and it will only show the strength and perseverance this generation dealt during its tough time. High school has shown me that no matter what obstacle comes in our way, we have to keep moving forward. As I look back to my high school years, I can only be thankful and appreciative to everyone I encountered down the road. San Luis High School has prepared me for my future career in many different ways such as enrolling myself in: Advanced Placement classes, dual enrollment classes, summer programs, and volunteer experiences. I had the chance to really challenge myself, and realize that I’m capable of so much more if I put in the work and dedication to do it.

Throughout high school, I was able to be part of numerous clubs and organizations. However, one of the most impactful for me has been student council. I joined student council during my junior year as a class representative, later becoming student body treasurer in my senior year. This club has made me grow as a student, leader, and most importantly as a person. Being part of something bigger than myself, has taught me the true definition of leadership and commitment. Not only has student council been such an impact, but volunteering as well. I had the opportunity to volunteer at Yuma Regional Medical Center, where I was exposed to the medical field. My dream is to become a registered nurse, and actually volunteering in the hospital gave me the chance to interact with many employees, patients, and visitors. 

I’m grateful for every opportunity I was given, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends, teachers, and advisors. Particularly, my parents, who have taught me how to follow my dreams and aspirations with humbleness and gratitude. Without their unconditional love and support, I wouldn’t be the young woman I am today; they teach me to be a better person each day. Furthering my education and striving for success is one of my first steps of repaying my parents for all their sacrifices. I would also like to thank my teachers and advisors, who always believed in me and pushed me to succeed. They gave me the necessary tools I needed to acquire new skills, and expand my knowledge. Also, my friends who never left my side, and were always there for me whenever I needed them.

My next step in education is to continue taking classes at Arizona Western College and transfer to NAU-Yuma where I’m planning to major in Nursing. I’m nervous, yet, excited to close a chapter and begin a new one. I know that it won’t be easy, but with persistence, dedication, and faith anything is possible. My goal is to work at YRMC, and give back to my community as much as I can. 

As our class quote says, “You’re on your own path. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.” It is an honor and privilege to represent my school, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of the Class of 2020. 

Once a Sidewinder, always a Sidewinder. 

Daniel -- Vista High School


The journey in high school was a bit bothersome in the beginning but eventually I was able to have a wonderful time during my last two years. I am glad to have been in Vista High School for the last years of high school. The experience prepared me for college by helping me manage my time more wisely and giving me more of an understanding of what college is like. The next step to further my education and career is going to AWC for my associates in arts. What has motivated me throughout my high school experience has to be my family, friends, and all my teachers at Vista. My family has given me support since the beginning and pushed me to do my best in school. Friends who have enjoyed my presence through the years and looking out for me. My teachers at Vista who have guided me through the class and believed in the success of all students. I wish that I was able to stay back at VHS but the world doesn’t stand still and I hope for the best for everyone there. 

A positive influence during these years has been my childhood friend. He is smart, kind, honest, and dependable. Over the years, there is never a dull moment when he is around. He has always encouraged me to graduate at the time I did not feel motivated to show up to school since I had believed it was a waste of time. I believe that we will achieve great things in the road ahead of us and support one another. 

I’m grateful for all the teachers I had during my time at high school. I am happy to have been able to take your class and learn the material even if I missed out on days. The experiences will always be in my mind. 

Breana -- Yuma High School


Author Brian Tracy said, “There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your own thinking."

As a child I had many aspirations and over time some changed and some stayed the same. I aspire to be many things, one is to be a tattoo artist with my own business. I’ve always dreamt of being a tattoo artist because it takes the meaning of art to a different level and art is something I’ve always had a passion for. Another aspiration is to help the homeless within my community. Helping people is something I personally like doing because we as people need a little help and guidance to get back on the right track. I feel that I can hopefully one day, with the help of my community, help the homeless in Yuma and give them the resources and guidance they need to work towards having a better life for themselves. The last is to be a good leader and role model for my little sister, my nephew, and many others as well to the best of my ability. I want to inspire and motivate them to go after their goals and aspirations and for them to know and believe that they can and will get past any and every obstacle and adversity that stands in their way.

Planning for my future has been one of the most stressful and thrilling moments of my life. I remember when I first started planning for life after high school and choosing what it was I wanted to be and have a career in. My mind and heart are both set on becoming a tattoo artist with my own tattoo shop and that is exactly what I will do, but before that I’m set on college first. I plan to attend Arizona Western College for two years to start my associates in art and my degree in business and then I will transfer to Arizona State University and finish the last two years there. At the same time, hopefully, I will also be apprenticing at a local tattoo shop in order to expand my knowledge and skills of being a tattoo artist the proper way. I also plan on going to art school to better my artistic and creative skills as well as gain a bigger background in art. Although I love to create art in many different mediums I also love reading because it helps me stay creative and maintain my imagination. I recently took up writing as a new hobby and it’s really interesting and exciting to me because it opens the door to many different possible stories and it allows me to express myself on paper like my drawings and potentially connect with others. I enjoy cooking and baking, I love music, and playing sports because I like to challenge myself physically to stay active. I enjoy doing so much and learning new things and it helps keep me going and it gives me more to do. 

As a senior looking back at my four years of high school at Yuma High School it amazes me at just how much I’ve experienced, how much I’ve learned, and how much I’ve changed as a student and a person. To me I feel that from my experience at Yuma High I can and will take with me not only the general knowledge of my classes, but also the many life lessons my teachers and peers have helped me learn, the many different friendships and connections I’ve made with everyone I had the joy of getting to know, the communication and professional skills I gained from my Career & Technical Education class, Academic Decathlon, and soccer, and most importantly the many memories I had the opportunity of making and the school pride I have gained.

As a graduating student and young adult everything I’ve accomplished and have been a part of here at Yuma High has taught me to never give up on whatever I do because I have to be determined to finish strong, persistent in achieving the outcome I want, and to believe in myself that I can do anything and everything I set my mind to.

Kenia -- Cibola High School


At eleven years old, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness; that meant several doctor’s appointments here, biweekly infusions there, and a long list of symptoms. However, my dad was the one who had to endure a lifetime of unknown pain and kidney failure to finally put a name to the thing that stole his liberty. A kidney transplant and hundreds of enzyme-restoring treatments later, we’re both living healthy lives. Experiencing first-hand the way medicine has aided my family and I has me convinced medicine is where I belong. A doctor isn’t just something I want to be; it’s something I have to be because nobody should feel controlled by an illness. 

After deciding I wanted to join the healthcare profession, it seemed to just get more confusing because it’s more than just doctors and nurses. Freshman year, I was barely beginning to explore college, much less medical school. During my college-preparation class, AVID, I’d research every career that had anything to do remotely with medicine and decided on a trauma surgeon. My teacher, Ms. Palmer, was there to reassure me, push me, and believe in my potential to be a doctor - no matter how intimidating (or expensive). She assisted me through four years of mini panic attacks of paying for college or simply helping me with math during tutoring. We also made the ultimate memories on field trips. 

"A doctor isn’t just something I want to be; it’s something I have to be because nobody should feel controlled by an illness."

As for schoolwork, Ms. Garcia was part of the reason science remained my favorite subject. After taking biology as a freshman, I took Science Research with her until senior year. She constantly showed me that science was my passion by supporting me through my various science projects. She openheartedly welcomed my presence and offered advice, whether it was school-related or personal. I could always count on her for anything. 

Entering senior year, I was set on going to the University of Arizona until my counselor vouched for me to view other options. Mrs. Dawson encouraged me to apply for Questbridge, a full-ride scholarship program to numerous prestigious schools. I hadn’t considered going to school outside of Arizona, never mind apply there. After applying for the program, I was granted admission to Stanford University and will (excitedly) attend in the fall this year! I wouldn’t be living a dream at one of the most distinguished schools in the country if it wasn’t for Mrs. Dawson’s guidance in the application process. Not to mention the dozens of scholarships she chased me down for. She opened my eyes to a reality I never thought possible until it happened. Going into Mrs. Dawson’s office was surely one of the best parts of high school. 

I’ve worked hard in school to ensure I have a successful future and I’m endlessly grateful for all the people who have helped me in any aspect of my education. Ms. Palmer, Mrs. Dawson, and Ms. Garcia motivate me to become the best doctor I aspire to be so this one is for them. It’s always a great day to be a Raider!

Joshua -- Gila Ridge High School


The summer before my freshman year of high school I started becoming interested in film and photography. I started learning as much as I could through YouTube. My sophomore year of high school I found out I could take photography as an elective class, so I jumped on that opportunity as soon as I could. The idea of having something I loved to do as a class really excited me. After some time in the class, Mr. Kuzniak chose me as one of the students who would compete at the regional SkillsUSA competition. I placed second in the photography basic competition and found out I could compete in the state competition. Even though I didn’t place, I knew more about the competition for the future.

The next year I had the opportunity to attend SkillsUSA’s Washington Leadership Training Institute to earn my Statesman Award. This was a part of my training as a Yuma Union High School District Career and Technical Education Ambassador. I also placed third for photography at the regional competition and competed at state again. This past school year seemed to start a little bit early for me, because in June I went to SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky to participate in their Activate training. After my training in June, I was promoted to the role of YUHSD CTE Leader. This meant that I would be responsible for helping with local events regarding CTE courses. This included the SkillsUSA Region 1 Fall Leadership Conference, Good Morning Yuma, and Gila Ridge High School’s CTE Fair. Most recently I won the gold medal for photography in the SkillsUSA Arizona  Region 1 Competition. Through all of these different experiences, I feel that I have built the skills I need to succeed in my future career. I have learned everything from being professional in an interview to dining etiquette.

Throughout high school, my motivation was my future career. I knew in order to get into the college I wanted to go to I had to maintain a good GPA. I wanted to make my parents proud and be able to do what I love. It might sound strange that my future career was my motivation, but once school is over, your career becomes your daily life. Building a career doing what I love is the goal. I definitely would not be where I am in my career now without Mr. Kuzniak. He has been a major influence on my confidence in furthering my career after high school. He was always looking for different opportunities for me, whether it was something to further my knowledge, or a photography job with a local professional. Most of the professional experiences I have had in photography and filmmaking have been from connections Mr. Kuzniak has set me up with. I am incredibly grateful for everything he has done for me and my classmates.

"Through all of these different experiences, I feel that I have built the skills I need to succeed in my future career."

After graduation, I plan to attend Biola University. I will be majoring in Cinema & Media Arts and graduate with a minor in Biblical Studies. I am excited for what the future has to offer. Without CTE, I definitely would not be as prepared for my career as I am now.

Karen -- Kofa High School


When I entered Kofa High School, I had a blurry image of my future and had no clue how I was going to achieve my goals. I was confused about how to fill out college applications and scholarships, but slowly got the hang of things with the help of numerous people. My ECAP meetings with my counselor, Mrs.Munoz, helped me focus on what career path I wanted and the necessary steps to get there. In these meetings, I figured out what major I wanted to pursue, the college I wanted to attend, and also classes that would help me prepare for college. Next fall I plan to attend the University of Arizona’s Honors College and study Biology. Learning I was accepted into the UA’s Honors College was such an honor and was only possible because of the support I had in my academics. 

Since the start of my freshman year, I had always felt the support of my mother and two brothers to do the best I could in school. My mother never had the chance to graduate high school and always dreamed of attending college but couldn’t because she chose to immigrate to America at the age of 17 in hopes of giving her children a better future. Despite not being able to achieve some goals, my mom has lived her dreams through her children and that has always motivated me in high school. 

My siblings are 7 years older than me so I was fortunate to see them graduate from Kofa as well as the University of Arizona. They have shown me how a college degree can significantly change your life and influenced me to work harder in school. Kofa has helped me explore my options and shown me wether I pursue college or a career there are people willing to help me achieve my dreams. I learned the importance of perseverance and hard work here and will always look back at my years at Kofa as some of the most important years of my life. 

Bryana -- Vista High School


High school has helped me prepare for college and my career goals in more ways than I could have ever imagined. At the start of my junior year I had no idea what would be in store for my future. I was behind on credits from slacking off from both of my previous schools, and I didn’t really have the motivation to go far with my education. But at Vista High School, they don’t give you the option to slack off. With it being such a small school, teachers and staff get to know everyone personally. With that being said, that comes with some of the teachers and staff constantly being on you about behavior and/or grades. But no matter what, I believe the teachers and staff at Vista were always there to give me the extra push when I needed it. Especially when it came to me graduating early. I will forever be appreciative to the teachers and staff at Vista who made my last year and a half of high school very unforgettable. They helped me grow into the person I am today. Being Student Body President helped me show how intrigued I was with helping people and making changes to benefit not only me but everyone around me. Which is what helped me realize that I want to continue to help people in the long run.

My next step in my career goals is starting the EMT academy at Arizona Western College starting this August. After that I plan on attending the Fire Academy. My final hopes are becoming certified as a firefighter. I want to be able to help all of those in need in any way that I possibly can.

Throughout high school the idea of making my mom proud had always been my biggest motivation. While I was growing up and being childish there were always severe hardships between the two of us because I was making very bad decisions at the time. But with trying to make her proud I started devoting myself to school and I started to enjoy it and I started doing it for myself as well; to make myself proud. 

My biggest motivator, although I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and loved ones, would have to be Ruby Camarillo. Mrs. Camarillo works at the front desk at Vista and does a whole lot of things that I wouldn't be able to account for all of them even if I tried. She pushed me in ways that I didn't think I needed. She always made sure that I never lost sight of my overall goals in life. Even when I was a real pain, she never gave up on me. I am extremely grateful to have her in my life.

My time in high school has helped me grow into the person that I am today, and for that I am truly grateful. Although it may not have all been sunshine and rainbows, I did it.

Luis -- Yuma High School


My aspirations for the future are all based around helping the people around me and those I care about. I seek to give back to my family, my community, and all of those who have given me moments of respite, admiration and clarity. Hopefully, I can someday become a programmer for a computing company or development organization, so that I may provide the people of the world with newer, innovative technologies. Additionally, I aspire to influence the young minds of the future and provoke a unified emotion among the people of my country, and the world. With these things in mind, I think very closely of my future and my journey through life. 

"I aspire to influence the young minds of the future and provoke a unified emotion among the people of my country, and the world."

As far as my plans go for the future, I would certainly say that the first plotted point for me would be pursuing higher education. This is vital for me, as it helps tie into my other, more pivotal plan for the future, becoming a computer scientist. This plan is important for me because it would allow me to do what I love as a career; being able to allocate scripts of code and create ingenious new technology for the betterment of mankind is something of  beauty to my mind. So, as far as my future plans go, I remain eager to seek a degree for computer science, become a programmer, and work in the line of programming. As an added plan, I also intend to treat my family well with any following income once my technological expedition really takes off.

As a final word, I would like to include my time that I’ve spent at Yuma High School; the many memories I’ve made amongst my fellow schoolmates and teachers have been extremely beneficial to my life as well as my mental health. All of my teachers were an absolute joy to learn from, and the community of the school was fun and supportive. The school stands out among all others because of this, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. I will cherish the time I’ve spent in this wonderful establishment.