RNY Billboard Showcase 2023
Each year Yuma Union High School District selects 12 students to represent the school district and its Ready Now Yuma initiative 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 2023. They imbue the overall mission 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:
Yoselin -- Cibola High School
Cibola High School helped me to find my career and dream. Also, it changed me a lot. At first, I thought high school was only teaching. I was very worried that I wouldn't make it into college and hadn’t decided to get a job. But when I went to this school, I slowly understood the different career programs so I could find a job that I’m interested in. I have liked to draw since I was little. When I joined an art class, it helped me to improve my drawing so I could find types of art jobs. Now, I realize high school is the place where people figure out who they are or start on the journey to catch their dream.
When I graduate high school, I have a plan for my future. I want to go to community college, Arizona Western College, first because I can attain a diploma in Art, Video Game Art Design, or History in one year. Next, I plan to get accepted into California State University- Northridge, Northern Arizona University, Arizona University, or Gallaudet University. But the university I mostly want to go to is California State University- Northridge because I heard a lot of deaf people go there. I want to see how deaf/ hard-of-hearing people are doing. I believe that university will help me to not only expand my schooling in the areas of art, game design and history, but will increase my knowledge of the Deaf world as I grew up being exposed to the hearing world. My dream job is to become an illustrator, game designer, and historian. This school gives me more motivation because of new challenges, acknowledgment, and skills.
Spanish was the first language that was exposed in front of me since I’ve grown up in a Hispanic household. Then I learned American Sign Language (ASL). So, learning English has not been easy for me and high school worried me, especially when it came to English and grammar. ASL is my second language because I’m deaf and don’t vocalize for communication. Even though I have struggled with English, I am doing very well in my classes. Sometimes, English class is challenging for me and the teachers help me to understand. With continued exposure and support, I feel that I have improved a bit. I continue to have good grades in English. Once I experienced a ‘D’ for an English grade, and it hurt a lot. I felt like I failed, which caused me to almost give up. However, I realized if I gave up I would have zero knowledge of English. I would be unhappy and it would hurt my pride… So I continued studying and getting help from teachers. I will be careful and pay attention during class. I finally got a ‘B’ on my English grade, so it's pretty good. I kept working hard, then I got an ‘A.’
This school gives me positivity because it helps me to find my future college and career. They trust and believe in me. Some people learned ASL for me because they want to communicate with me so I won’t be alone anymore. It makes me very happy.
Jose -- Gila Ridge High School
Most of my days have been spent at school taking pictures for the school; most people know me as the kid that takes pictures around school. The opportunities I have been given throughout my last two years have been incredible. Unfortunately, my first two years of high school were cut short due to COVID-19. From being in student council, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), and Flim and TV, I have been able to work with people in the careers I would like to pursue in the future. From working with other photographers to talking to people who run marketing for the Phoenix Suns, it has been preparing me for my future.
My next step after graduating will be to become a full-time student at Arizona Western College to get my Associate's Degree. After that, I will continue my education at Grand Canyon University or Arizona State University in Phoenix to get my bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. During that same time, I will start working for KECY-TV in Yuma to further improve my skills in film. I will also be starting my own business in photography.
What has motivated me throughout high school has been my teachers always being there and helping me through thick and thin. I have always had my teacher push me to become the best me. I have always enjoyed what I do, so it was always fun to take pictures and edit them. When I have moments where I don't want to do any work, I just think of what kind of future I want to have, so I work for that.
I cannot say that only one person has been a huge inspiration in helping me prepare for my future career. Mrs. Patricia Leal has pushed me to work hard for all of my competitions, which has improved my skills to be a future business leader. Mr. James Kuzniak has done an amazing job making sure I had the equipment that I needed and helping me with contacts in both film and photography. Ms. Cora Prude has been helping me with my business and has been a huge supporter. These are only a few of the people who have helped me throughout high school.
During high school, one of the most difficult things I had to go through was COVID-19. It was a very hard time for life with the number of people who lost their jobs and homes. Going online was a very difficult change from regular school. My high school experience was cut short, so I made the best out it my last two years of high school and worked my hardest to become what I wanted.
Desiraee -- Kofa High School
In August of 2019, freshman year me had no idea about the wonderful experiences and opportunities that I would receive along my high school journey. My high school experience has set me up for success by equipping me with the necessary skills and knowledge that are needed for my future in order to be successful. This includes learning how to de-escalate situations through my Law and Public Safety class, public speaking skills due to numerous conferences/meetings, working with others in a classroom environment, professionalism at
conferences/meetings, responsibility with my work and given tasks, planning and organizing events, and the ability to be flexible and adaptable in any circumstance.
As graduation approaches, I have my mind set on attending a community college for a year or two and then transferring to a university to pursue a career in becoming a Radiology Technology Technician. Arizona Western College offers a great program for this career field. I then plan on transferring to the University of Arizona, as this university is known for its medical field. After receiving my Bachelor’s Degree, I plan on seeking a job in a hospital somewhere in Utah or Texas.
Although high school hasn’t been the easiest four years of my life with having to manage a 4.0 GPA, a job, and dance, what helps me stay motivated is my Law and Public Safety level 2 advisor, Eric Frost. Beginning my Sophomore year of high school, Mr. Frost has always believed in me and pushed me to try new things. Three years later, he has provided me with endless opportunities and because of him, I have developed my public speaking skills, placed gold in the SkillsUSA Region 1 conference and made finals at state, held the position of Region 1 Vice President, traveled to Washington D.C. and Atlanta Georgia, and I currently hold the position as SkillsUSA Arizona State Vice President. His constant words of encouragement and the way that he believes in me are what helped me remain motivated throughout high school. He provides me with the best advice and is always there for me when I need assistance.
If it wasn’t for my parents, I wouldn’t receive the assistance and support that I need to feel college and career ready the way that I do. My parents constantly provide me with words of encouragement and wisdom which have all made a positive influence on my life. They push me to do my best, and they never doubt me. As we are all well aware, in March 2020, a global pandemic by the name of COVID-19, negatively affected the entire world. Many lost their lives and were getting severely ill during these horrific times. Unfortunately, changes had to be made to accommodate the health of others and school was switched to strictly virtually for months. In such an adverse situation, I had to learn how to adapt to this new change. Being the outgoing person that I am who fuels off of social interaction, I knew that this change was going to be difficult. I had to go from talking to my peers in person to talking to my peers in front of a computer screen. Having to be quarantined in my home for months and beginning my sophomore year of high school online was difficult, but I overcame this challenge with a positive and hopeful mindset. That is the key to getting through any difficult situation!
Robert -- San Luis High School
My high school experience has been memorable, to say the least. High school is a place where one comes to learn about themselves and grow as a person. Students learn about what inspires them and what their next step in life is.
These four years at San Luis High School have taught me that I find no greater joy than helping those around me, and also helped me discover my love for the medical field. After high school, my plan is to attend Arizona State University and after four years earn a degree in biological sciences. The courses offered at my school such as Emergency Medical Services have prepared me for the next chapter of my life both academically and personally. This class taught me the basics of the medical field by teaching me how to give medical care in an emergency situation, as well as aiding the development of my time management, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills.
My business management class also helped me get a job before graduating. It showed me the basics of working in a professional environment. It also helped me prepare life essentials such as a social network, a resume, and many more. Throughout high school, I faced many obstacles that could have detoured me from pursuing my goals. However, something that always motivated me was the thought of one day earning my doctorate and helping those who are in need and those who helped me along the way. Without the support of my girlfriend and family, it would have been easy for me to give up when faced with life challenges.
Extracurricular activities such as cross country, track, and multiple clubs that I am part of help me find a positive outcome for my problems. Overcoming these obstacles was not always easy, but with the guidance of those close to me, I was always able to conquer my problems.
Alexia -- Vista High School
Growing up I was always told that high school would be the greatest time of your school years. During my freshman and sophomore years, those were my rough times in high school because of the feeling of being in a bigger campus. I felt the lack of available help and no motivation. My freshman year was cut short due to COVID- 19. We transitioned from in-person classes to online, which was a huge change and felt like a challenge. When we started online classes, I had a hard time trying to stay focused and motivated to finish off my freshman year strong. I gave up and ended up failing my freshman year with only 2 credits instead of 5-6 credits. Two weeks before starting my sophomore year, I had lost my father due to COVID, which slowed me down even more and I had no motivation to do anything. When we started Remote Learning, everything seemed so challenging and different. Thanks to my mother for always trying her best to be there for me and would push me to do my school. After a while of Remote Learning, I felt like a failure and started giving up on school again. I had straight F’s in every term. I failed my sophomore year and ended the school year with the same 2 credits from freshman year.
During summer break, I knew I had to figure life out, better myself, and find a way to graduate on time. My boyfriend (Alex) had come to Vista High School. He would always tell me good things about Vista, how much his teachers cared about his school career, and how much help he was actually getting. He inspired me to transfer to Vista to catch up on my credits. I started my junior year at Vista, which changed my life around. When I came to Vista, I felt the motivation and help I needed for my school career to achieve my goals and graduate. A couple weeks passed by, and I had my first meeting with my counselor to talk about my credits. In order to graduate on time with my class, I had to complete 16 edgenuity classes to get caught up. Even without having an Academy class to work on my edgenuity, I completed 11 of those classes on my time throughout my junior year.
I got so much help on my school work, I never felt like giving up on school anymore, and I started having straight A’s for every term which was a huge improvement. I wanna thank all my teachers and even staff members at Vista for helping me, motivating me, and believing in me. I’m grateful for having such a supportive environment. Before the end of my junior year, I was given an opportunity to become a student worker for my senior year. Vista has shown me the confidence that I needed to become the person that I am today. I finished my junior year strong, with a total of 15.5 credits. I’m now a senior this year and beyond ready to graduate with Class of 2023. After all the ups and downs, I now feel ready to conquer my college years.
I plan to attend Arizona Western College, after high school to get my CNA. When I came to Vista, I took a Medical Assisting class and learned a lot more about the medical field which inspired me to go to college to become a CNA. After I receive my certification for CNA, I will continue my schooling to also become a Labor and Delivery RN. While I'm in college for that, I will look into CNA jobs and start getting experience in the medical field. I am currently a student worker here at Vista, and I’m very grateful I was offered this opportunity. I’ve learned so much since I started working here such as, having better customer service, professionalism, student language to adult language, being more organized and detail oriented. Maybe one day I will come back to become the next “Mrs. Ruby [Camarillo]” as everyone tells me here.
Throughout my high school years, I had many teachers and staff motivate me to keep on going and reach for my goals. When I started Student Council with Mr. Diego Moya, I was really shy and quiet. Within time, Mr. Moya showed me how to build leadership skills, how to collaborate with my classmates and others, and the best one was he taught me how to overcome my fear and be more confident. Although Mr. Moya and I bumped heads here and there, I wanna thank him for always helping me and being hard on me to do better. Mrs. Ruby was the most influential person that showed me that giving up on school wasn't the best choice, but showing up and trying was a better decision. She has been there for me since I stepped foot into this school and I appreciate her very much.
Sabian -- Yuma High School
High School has helped me prepare for college in many ways both academically and athletically. Being provided with some of the best teachers and coaches to help me grow is a big reason for this. Starting high school, I was still a kid who thought that I knew it all and could mess around whenever I wanted while still getting perfect grades. However, Advanced Placement classes and wrestling opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to work harder in both academics and athletics if I wanted to be successful. AP classes showed me how rigorous college curriculum can be, forcing me to take a different approach to how I would complete my work and study for upcoming exams. I had to begin to actually study and review the material learned every day after school, making sure that it was drilled into my brain and would not leave.
This same pattern had to be executed in wrestling as well, as high school wrestling is a whole different monster than middle school wrestling. Going to one practice a day began to not be enough after my lackluster performance my freshman year, when I failed to qualify for state. Over the next months leading up to my sophomore year, I was honing in on all the little details making sure that I would be ready to compete with the best people in the state. My work paid off and led to me placing fourth at the state tournament.
This cycle would continue for the rest of my journey through high school. I would study after school and drill the things I learned in school and wrestling deeper into my mind and muscle memory. College is the next step in my life as a student and as an athlete and the habits I have developed throughout these four years have prepared me for what lies ahead in the next chapter of my life.
Roman -- Cibola High School
As the months turn into weeks, and the weeks into days, our final weeks of high school are just around the corner. Throughout high school, I have taken part in so many different programs, some of which include being part of the Cibola High School Drama department, emcee-ing for the student council pep assemblies, and being a Southwest Technical Education District of Yuma (STEDY) student. Being part of STEDY has allowed me to come to terms and decide that I want to pursue architecture in college, and there are so many programs and opportunities available here at Cibola that left me and other students prepared and ready for college.
Throughout high school, I have been lucky enough to have had some of the most supportive and caring teachers that I could only aspire to be, and having them has made my academic career so enjoyable. Mr. Michael Massone has been my Drama Director and teacher for the last three years of high school. He is such an amazing actor, director, and person that has taught me and led me through so much and I look up to him. I have learned so much in this program, not only about acting, or singing, but about who I am. Being a drama student meant taking part in many productions. Among them was "Seussical the Musical," playing Horton the Elephant, and "The Addams Family Musical," playing Uncle Fester. I have had the opportunity to also be the Light Focus, Hang Designer, and set build crew for the two productions I mentioned, taking part in the technical side of productions. During high school, I have also volunteered to serve at events using my skills in theatre-tech and doing sound for different school and community events, and I was a volunteer at the Humane Society of Yuma for a while, since I love working with dogs and cats.
I would not exchange my high school experience for anything. I have had the best of friends, teachers, and counselors. Mrs. Andrea Hauck and before her Mrs. Anastasia Dawson were my counselors through high school, and I would not be where I am without them. They guided me through my academics and were always so supportive of every single one of my decisions, and helped me throughout all of my four years at Cibola. In the fall, I am going to attend the University of Arizona’s W.A. Franke Honors College, through which I will complete my Bachelors’ Degree in Architecture. I am enthused about what is coming for me and my friends, and I cannot be any more thankful to all of the people who have supported me through this crazy, spontaneous, and awesome journey that we went through together. Starting college, I plan to take part in many volunteering events, internships, and hopefully take part in all the opportunities that being a student at UofA offers. The future is finally here, and I am ready, since it is up to me to make the most of this next step in my life.
Samantha -- Gila Ridge High School
People weren’t lying when they said high school goes by in a blink of an eye. Just yesterday I was walking into Gila Ridge High School for the first time and now I have my cap and gown waiting for me. As the days go by I’m getting closer to reaching my lifetime goals.
Throughout my high school career I have pushed myself by taking rigorous courses along with dual enrolment classes. I had the privilege to be part of two incredible Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses; Law & Public Safety and Nursing. Going into my freshman year I was interested in majoring in Criminal Justice and decided to take the course to see what it was about. Although I decided it wasn’t for me, it gave me the opportunity to put myself out there and compete at the 2022 SkillsUSA State competition, where I placed in the top 5 out of more than 200 competitors. My junior year of high school I began to have an interest in the healthcare field, so I decided to see what it entailed. I ended up falling in love with what nursing was all about, so I took the chance, interviewed for the Certified Nursing Assistant Program and I got accepted. Now, I am on my way to get certified and it’s one of my biggest accomplishments. Another program that played a huge role in my high school career was the AVID program. It has helped me get a jumpstart in my career by teaching me skills that will come in handy when studying at a higher level. Thanks to the program, I got the feel of what my next few years in college are going to be like and I can’t wait to put them to use. Not only have I pushed myself in the classroom but in athletics too. I participated in softball my first two years and was part of the varsity cheerleading program all throughout high school.
Throughout my high school career I have pushed myself by taking rigorous courses along with dual enrolment classes. - Samantha, GRHS
Reflecting on my years in high school I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have if it wasn’t for my struggles. In a way, I’m very thankful for them. I had a hard time battling that little voice telling me that I wasn’t capable or worthy of the goals I had for myself. It was difficult for me to persevere at times after having setbacks even when I was trying my very best. Looking back, those setbacks served a purpose. They gave me the opportunity to grow and learn more about myself. Another major struggle I faced was the pressure that comes with being the oldest child. I always felt like I had to be the best in everything I did. Until I learned that the best thing to do is to just do me. All I had to do is to keep showing up, put in the work, and everything else will fall into place.
I am extremely proud to say that I will be the first in my family to continue my studies at the collegiate level. After graduation I will be attending Arizona Western College and later transferring over to Northern Arizona University to obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing sciences. Not only will I be working on earning my degree but also working in the healthcare field as a CNA. I’d like to thank my family and friends for their unconditional love and support. And a special thank you to Mr. Greg Brown, Mr. Andrew Mercer, Mr. Alfonzo Perez, Ms. Hilary Stock, Mrs. Aurora Frost, and Mrs. Ramirez for guiding me and preparing me for the next chapter of my life.
Luis -- Kofa High School
My name is Luis Encinas and I am a senior at Kofa High School. Ever since I was a child I had always been determined to do my work and to make good choices just so when I grew up I would do something big one day. That was all I ever wanted as a kid really, I knew that I wanted to do something big with my life, make a positive impact in the community.
I grew up in Somerton, Arizona and the thing I have always loved about Somerton is its close-knit community. The whole city feels like one big family, everyone knows each other and we can all come together for a common cause to help each other. I feel both the city and the community of Somerton have given me the determination to do these things. I have found it so welcoming and am forever grateful for teaching me how important it is to be a good person as well as how to appreciate the smaller things in life. To show my gratitude I have volunteered at local events such as the Pet Palooza and the Tamale Festival, all in the hopes of giving back to my community one way or another. I have done these things solely for the fact that I love the community and felt it was something I would enjoy doing.
I have also shown my passion in my academics, especially in Career & Technical Education (CTE). I value CTE and all of the programs they offer. I feel it is so useful in gaining the skills necessary for any career field. My freshman year I took business management and fell in love with the class and the subject. I knew this is what I wanted to pursue, I then became a member of Courtesy Corps and represented business management. I learned how to be more professional in my time in the Courtesy Corps and how to make a good impression. However, I knew that there was more I could do and this would only be the beginning. My sophomore year I then took the level two class for business management since I had enjoyed level one so much. However, I was not present at school because of COVID-19 for this year, so I decided to retake level 2 my junior year in order to participate in all the opportunities I had missed out on. I became our Vice President of our FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) chapter at Kofa High School and had felt great about what I was doing and realized I loved leading and networking in a professional setting. Since I was a part of both Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and SkillsUSA; two Career & Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs).
I felt the need to just act on all the opportunities available to me. I had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. for a week-long training institute for SkillsUSA as well as multiple conferences for FBLA Arizona. I was so grateful for what I was able to learn from these experiences and it only fueled my love for business even more, therefore I took the next step in my journey and ran for state office. I ran for state office for FBLA Arizona, and to my surprise I ended up becoming a state officer. To me this is my proudest accomplishment since I had felt this accomplishment was such a vital step in helping me become ready for the business industry.
As of right now I am the Vice President of Chapter Development/State & National Programs for FBLA Arizona as well as serving as the Treasurer for the SkillsUSA chapter at Kofa High School. I have been given a platform to network and lead with tons of individuals all across the state. I have led multiple teams, spoken with industry professionals, attended/helped operate numerous conferences and have hosted workshops in my time in the state office. However, no matter what I have done and no matter where I have had the opportunity to travel to, I have always had a passion driving me to do the things I love.
I have brought this passion with me and have used it as a reason for doing the things I do and the reason I try to give no matter what I do my absolute best. I believe that my passion is a useful characteristic of mine that I have always had and that I have learned to hone my passion into something great that helps others. I have seen that it works and that a person with passion is a determined person, so my plan is to stay passionate. Everything I have done in my high school career I have done out of passion. Whether it was for my community, my schooling or my passion for business management, my passion has always been my driving factor.
Ashely -- San Luis High School
As a 17-year-old who is not far away from becoming a young adult, I can say that I am proud of myself for what I have accomplished and demonstrated for my younger siblings. I consider my education at San Luis High School as a valuable learning experience. I have experienced many wonderful and difficult moments. Yet, all these experiences helped shape me as a person and gain skills in communication, teamwork and leadership.
I have met so many people in my life and am grateful for those who have left an impact. Time still goes and my education doesn’t stop after high school. My plan is to attend a four-year university and graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. I hope that I end up working in law enforcement. On my way to graduation, I experienced so many emotions that have made me think and realize about my life and every decision I make. One of the biggest emotions is feeling sad when realizing that I will leave my friends and family. Yet, I am super excited to close this amazing chapter in my life and create a new one.
I consider my education at San Luis High School as a valuable learning experience. I have experienced many wonderful and difficult moments. Yet, all these experiences helped shape me as a person and gain skills in communication, teamwork and leadership. - Ashely, SLHS
I have gone through every obstacle throughout high school and in the end feel grateful because it has made me a stronger person. Being a student-athlete has made my high school experience even more fun. Being in sports definitely helped me take my mind off a lot of things, especially in school or in my life. I was able to meet younger generations, which allowed me to create valuable bonds. I owe it all to myself. All my hard work seems as if it will pay off. I wouldn’t change anything. This year, I am leaving and feel fortunate and blessed to have been a part of SLHS and everything it gave me. I look forward to my next chapter, but never forgetting the valuable lessons that SLHS has taught me.
Isabela -- Yuma High School
High school has helped me prepare for a career in college thanks to the nursing program that I take. I learned a lot of new things, which helped me gain experience and get my Certified Nursing Assistant certificate. I had an internship in clinics where we took care of people. I also had to study a lot to be able to pass the exams we took weekly. The practices we had in the laboratory helped me when it came to taking the final exams. Even though I failed the first time, I didn't give up and when I tried again I was successful.
Now, I plan to continue studying something that includes medicine. Since I already have my CNA certificate, I would like to advance myself in that field. I am interested in a career as a dentist since it is something that has always caught my attention. I am taking into account how much time, money and effort I will have to put in to achieve it. Therefore, I plan to work as a CNA while going to college in order to save money for the university.
My family is what motivated me to continue studying. My mom has made me think about my future; what would benefit me and what I want. I have my CNA, but I want more because I don't like the idea of settling for what I have now. I am going to continue with my studies and work in my profession. I want to be able to maintain a comfortable standard of living and make my family proud.
In high school, my teachers and counselors have helped me a lot by providing opportunities to continue improving in everything I do. Thanks to them, I have been able to complete this year of school. They have also given me advice which has helped me a lot to think about my future and what life is like after school.
I have gone through several obstacles in high school, which have made it very difficult for me to study. I have had to get ahead on my own. I’ve had to go from house to house since I don't have a place of my own where I can be and aside from that, my mother does not have enough resources to be able to support me financially for college. But at the end of the day, thanks to my counselors and my friends, I have been able to keep going despite how difficult it has been.