Senior, Rachel Gutierrez, leaving her fourth period class for the last time Thursday, May 13, 2019. (Jacqueline Pompa)
Senior, Rachel Gutierrez, leaving her fourth period class for the last time Thursday, May 13, 2019.

Jacqueline Pompa

Seniors take their Big Leap

Valedictorian chooses Notre Dame

May 28, 2019

Editor’s Note: After weeks of waiting for numbers and names of Grizzlies going to college, the newsroom, unfortunately, came up empty handed. We have chosen to go forward with the article without the added information and counts from SAUSD. We apologize for the inconvenience. 

With the end of the school year less than two weeks away, many seniors work the bare minimum in order to graduate. Rachel on the other hand, is not just skating by.

Senior Rachel Gutierrez, has been working hard from the beginning. Overall, she’s taken 14 AP classes and passed all of them. It’s to no surprise that she is valedictorian of the class of 2019.

Many students don’t ever think of taking many AP classes during their four years of high school but Gutierrez decided to take as many as she could.

Having so much to do in a single day and having cheer practice might seem like you would have a breaking point but this wasn’t it for Gutierrez. She knew what she was getting herself into when she signed up for AP classes.

“Personally, the second I start doubting myself or complaining is the second I fall into a downward spiral, I know myself like that, so I know what to do to avoid the situation,” Gutierrez said.

It may seem impossible to some of us but Gutierrez pulled through everything and made sure she didn’t waste this chance of saving money by acing her AP exams.

“The amount of time I studied for an individual course or a specific AP exam was always dependent on my confidence of the material and how easily I caught on.” She didn’t know the specific number of hours she studied but she grew more efficient with her study time and studied for more shorter times as her AP class load increased.

The hardest class so far she’s had was AP Chemistry. “I took it my sophomore year without having taken a regular or honors chemistry course.” As for the easiest, AP Spanish.

Being a valedictorian for our school comes with its perks. Gutierrez applied to: UCLA, UC Berkeley, UCI, and UCSD. “I got accepted into all of them.” She also applied and got accepted to Notre Dame and USC, was waitlisted for Vanderbilt and rejected by Northwestern.

On May 1st, she accepted her admission offer to Notre Dame in the fall and will be majoring in cell and developmental biology. Because of her hard work, she received $65,000 worth of financial aid, grants, and scholarships only leaving her to pay for $6,000 of a tuition of $71,000 a year.

As to how she will pay for the rest, she plans on working during the summer, continuing to apply for scholarships and taking out any necessary loans.

She will be getting credit for all the AP classes she’s taken but chooses not to take the credit for science. “I’m a science major and I don’t want to be overwhelmed with the difficulty that would come with skipping a general science course.”

Because her parents weren’t very involved in her life she declined an interview with her parents.

First Generation Student chooses UCLA

Steve Pineda

Senior Natalie Serrato repping UCLA at Senior Signing Day on May 17th, 2019 at 1:11 p.m.

First Generation Student chooses UCLA

Senior Natalie Serrato, will be part of the class of 2023 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

High school comes at a price. The price of time, dedication, and a LOT of stress. The workloads to some become deadlines for the bare minimum. But to others, there is  another step to be taken to become something great. In this case, Serrato’s steps were not that of a slacker.

Even when people work hard, doubt is a person’s greatest enemy. Serrato had originally planned on going to Minnesota for her education, having found Macalester College through the Questbridge program (where she ended as a finalist).

Serrato knew of UCLA’s reputation, so she “kept things realistic” and did not necessarily think of the school as her first option. Adding onto the “realistic” standards, Serrato gravitated towards smaller campuses, going towards the homey feel than a city one. UCLA is not exactly the best option for one with that preference.

When choosing between UCs and privates after acceptance, and having options that most people don’t have, it becomes  difficult.

Despite her inclination for smaller campuses, Serrato’s visit to UCLA began to cement her decision.  “I really loved the campus, not just the how it looked but the energy there”, she said.

Ironically, Serrato had already been planning her move to Minnesota and her Bruin Day trip was merely just to visit and with no intention of committing there. But this simple visit for Serrato, toppled her plans for Minnesota, a visit she taken earlier in the year.

There are a plethora of factors when it comes to choosing schools just besides how pretty a campus is. Family is a factor that heavily influences people, in fact stops some people from applying out of state. Serrato however did not mind the move, but with the stars aligning after her visit to UCLA, she realized that she would rather be close to her family. She hopes that her stay at UCLA allows her to be able to “be there for what happens in her younger siblings lives.”

Like a lot of this class’s admissions to college, Serrato is a first generation attendee. No matter where you go, being first generation is a huge accomplishment and hopefully the start of the rest of the family going to college. If it’s one thing that people want when knowing they’re the first, is approval from their parents.

Serrato’s mother,  Maria Luisa Morales, is ecstatically proud of her daughter. Morales stated that “It’s something I’m proud of but scares me because of how different it is going to be without you [Natalie] at home and all the challenges I’m going to face.”

Aside from her parents, Serrato deserves praise from everyone. Becoming a Bruin was no easy task. As long as Serrato continues to work hard, she is bound to reach heights she’s never reached before.

Serving his Country is Next for Isaac Macedo

What you do after high school is a simple question, but with so many ways to answer, this simple question can feel completely overwhelming. Isaac Macedo chose the U.S. Marines over college.

“Growing up, I never thought I could go to college. I was never very “book smart”said Macedo. No one told me I could even go to college, in fact, I was somewhat discouraged. For Isaac, the Marines was not only a dream, but also his next logical course of action.

What you do after high school is a simple question, but with so many ways to answer, this simple question can feel completely overwhelming. Sometimes, it can lead to knee-jerk decisions which can change the course of your entire life.

The bottom line is this: if you have any doubt in your mind, don’t sign up. If your heart and mind aren’t in 100% agreement to commit to the armed forces, look into other options.

Parents want the best for their children, in this case his mother, Maria Macedo, thought the Marines was a good option for him. “The military opportunities offer stable but challenging careers with regular promotions and responsibility.”

But before that his mother was unsure. “I warned him, ‘Do you know what you’re getting yourself into? You don’t like the idea of me telling you what to do, and our rules haven’t been near as strict as the Marines’ will be.”

Joining the military whether it’s Army, Navy, Air Force or the U.S. Marine Corps allows each soldier to receive the following:

  • Competitive salary
  • Military housing or a housing allowance
  • Food allowance
  • Medical care for Marines and their families
  • Education benefits
  • Retirement plans
  • Affordable life insurance
Taking Faith to College

Courtesy of Jasmine Tochihuitl

Jasmine Tochihuitl (center) poses with her parents and the Vanguard mascot, Samson the Lion.

Taking Faith to College

Choosing what college to attend is extremely difficult decision seniors have to make by May 1st. In the end, whether they attend a community college or a four-year university, what matters is the motivation behind that student that leads them to success.

Private schools are rigorous institutions that can be expensive. According to U.S. News & World Report, there are over 1,700 private universities in the United States. Jasmine Tochihuitl is one student who chose to attend Vanguard University.

Vanguard University is a Christian private school located in Costa Mesa, California. The university focuses on teaching their students not only how to succeed academically, but also how to incorporate faith in their lives. With only about 2,000 students Vanguard offers smaller class sizes, forming a better connection between the professors and the students.

She knew this school was the perfect fit for her as soon as she stepped on campus for a tour, “Choosing Vanguard is a decision I will never regret.” Tochihuitl wants to major in psychology with a specialization in child development and minor in religion.

Faith is a big part of the Vanguard culture and it helped Tochihuitl feel relieved that her faith is incorporated into her classes. Every class offered at Vanguard goes back and makes a connection between the subject and Christian faith.

Without grants and scholarships, the average cost for tuition at Vanguard is $45,000 per year. Tochihuitl has received scholarships along with grants that will help her pay for her education but she is still considering taking out student loans to pay for the rest.

Tochihuitl plans on getting financial help from her parents as she is not employed at the moment, nor does not she on working her first year of college. Her parents said they are extremely proud of their daughter and excited to see what the future brings for her.

Housing is usually the most expensive part of attending a university in California but since Vanguard is close by, Tochihuitl plans on saving herself thousands of dollars by continuing to live at home and commuting to school.

College without debt was the smart choice for Kevin Salinas

Alexa Penaloza

Senior, Kevin Salinas, prepares to finish the year strong after making his final college choice to attend Irvine Valley College.

College without debt was the smart choice for Kevin Salinas

The dreadful May 1st deadline has now passed and college decisions have been made. For Kevin Salinas, going to a four year institution with no plan and unable to afford university tuition was a challenge.

Community colleges greatly lack proper representation and support, at times it feels as though a four year university is the only acceptable choice. That is far from true. There are many benefits to attending a community college that should be looked at before making the final choice. Not all high school students are prepared for a university education, they don’t have the funds, or they simply do not know what they’re interested in majoring.

Salinas is attending Irvine Valley College this coming fall. Salinas said he “was not financially able to accept any other college offers” and decided to make a decision between IVC and SAC. “What made me choose community college was the transfer rate at IVC.”

According to IVC’s website, IVC is recognized as the number one school in Orange County and the state of California to have a high transfer rate of approximately 57.20%. IVC also offers an Honors program that paves the way for students that plan to transfer to UCLA and UCI with a transfer rate between 80 and 90% in comparison to 30% of non-honors program students.

Community colleges do a great job of introducing students to vocational training and studies that can be applied to finding well paid jobs. There is the obvious reason that community colleges are much cheaper and financial aid is available to help pay for it, IVC having an average $12,845 cost of tuition per year. In order to pay for college, Salinas plans to sign up for EOP in order to receive the first year free if he is accepted. He also plans to work a part time job to pay for the tuition.

Salinas said, “After completing my first two years, [general ed classes], I plan to transfer to either Cal Poly Pomona or UCI and major in chemical engineering.” Salinas feels more at ease because the first two years would be the same as any UC or Cal State school, it is all general ed courses but with less money being spent.

“It’s totally fine to choose a community college over a Cal State or UC, if you don’t have funds for it,” said Salinas.



2 Responses to “Seniors take their Big Leap”

  1. Wendy Gutierrez on September 23rd, 2019 11:27 am

    Reading the article “Senior take their big leap”. The article motivated me because of the big things that one can accomplish. My mind is REPLETE with many things I want to accomplish. I now see can you can do things you dream of. In the article, there is a quote “Personally, the second I start doubting myself or complaining is the second I fall into a downward spiral, I know myself like that, so I know what to do to avoid the situation”. I think this an important and motivational quote because I believe that one must PERCEIVE themselves. The reason I see it this way is that when you want to give up you know yourself, you know what to do in that situation and how to push yourself.

  2. Samantha Silva on November 22nd, 2019 1:19 pm

    I feel like this gives me motivation because I am a senior now and I could get things done. I know I can get somewhere in life, because seeing everyone, and went they through is like wow, if they can do it then anyone can. This is very good, because students can read it and hope to get spiral about this and go and accomplish what they want to do.

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