Honoring Pasco High School’s Young Leaders


May 12, 2015


As graduation draws near, Education Northwest would like to honor a group of exemplary students and future leaders from Pasco High School in Washington who met with us last year during a site visit.

A minority-majority school, Pasco High promotes bilingual and biliterate education. Their culture is celebrated and reinforced by the school’s offering of classes such as math and science in Spanish. Several teachers use the Project GLAD approach that keeps English learners in mainstream classrooms and gives all students the chance to succeed.

Pasco High School gives its students an opportunity to flourish, and the students who met with us have certainly done so. Last summer, the four students participated at the 2014 Lorenzo de Zavala Youth (LDZ) Legislative Session, the most recognized high school leadership program of the National Hispanic Institute (NHI). The program brings together high achieving and energetic students for a dialogue to explore the roles they play in shaping their world as future Latino leaders.

Here is what’s next for these students:

Photograph of Daphne Gallegos

My name is Daphne Gallegos, I am now 18 years of age, and I am finishing up my senior year of high school! :) I recently found out that I am a Gates Millennium Scholar, and I am so honored to be granted this amazing gift. I always worried about overcoming financial obstacles in order to actualize my dreams, and now I no longer have that burden. I will be able to fully engage in my studies at Whitman College starting this August, and I am beyond excited to begin my long journey at a small and mighty place like Whitman!

I will be taking part in the rigorous "BBMB" major which combines biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology. In addition, I will be earning a minor in French to solidify my knowledge of the language in order to travel with Doctors Without Borders in the future. In approximately 14 years, I will have earned my Ph.D./M.D. in immunology from the University of Washington School of Medicine and will be practicing, researching, and lecturing on immunology—that is if all goes according to plan! :) For now, I am excited to graduate high school as one of five valedictorians.

Additionally, since it was just Teacher Appreciation Week, I wanted to express my enormous gratitude to some of the teachers that have heavily influenced my career as a student. Ms. Julia Jones and Mme. Nancy Holton provide examples of the impact that teachers have had on me over the past 14 years. Julia Jones has truly supported me in my efforts to gaining a college-like research experience in high school. She has reminded me that it is okay to struggle, and I appreciate all of her support and her compassion toward educating students, such as myself. Additionally, Madame Holton has been my French teacher since I was in ninth grade. Her constant and genuine support has truly powered me through some tough obstacles I have faced in high school. Her passion for teaching is evident, and I am honored to have been her pupil for four years. Thanks to these and many more, wonderful educators, I will actualize my dreams—although at times they were once seemingly unobtainable.

Photograph of Josue Guevara

I'm Josue Guevara, a senior at Pasco High and currently on track to graduate with a few college credits underneath my belt. I earned those college credits through working hard and taking the opportunity to take AP classes in high school. After high school, I plan on going to basic training and AIT for the Washington State Army National Guard. I've been enlisted and attending monthly drills for the Guard since October, which makes this my seventh month in the military. Once I get back from all my training, I might go to Columbia Basic College for an A.A. degree in the sciences, or get straight to working in a company called Osmose, where I know I can make the big bucks and get great benefits. Although the future isn't that clear yet for me, I'm still happy because I know that there are wide open opportunities for me.

Mathematics has always been my favorite subject all throughout my academic career. A teacher that's greatly influenced my passion for math is Mr. Efren Mendoza. He's a very talented and humble algebra and calculus teacher here at PHS. Although He made me look forward to his class to hear his funny jokes and admire his great knowledge of all types of math. He knows just how to get along with students, and sometimes it's hard to find that in teachers nowasdays. He's a great teacher and role model and will always be my favorite.

Photograph of Sierra Perez

My name is Sierra Perez, I am 18 years old, and I am a senior at Pasco High School. During my senior year, I applied to Washington State University, University of Washington, and Columbia Basin College, and I was accepted to all of them. Ultimately, I decided to attend Columbia Basin College, because it allowed me to play the game I love, as I have been blessed enough to receive an athletic scholarship and further my basketball career.

After I complete my associate of arts degree, I plan to attend Washington State University and major in political science. I will then enter law school to attain my juris doctorate degree. I aspire to be a family lawyer, because I want to make a difference in the world and give back to my community. I believe I am where I am today because of my family, God, and the teachers who helped support me along the way. The countless hours of practicing and traveling for basketball that my family has done for me was well worth it, because I get schooling paid. Also, the continuous support from them has driven me to be one of this year’s valedictorians.

Now I can’t leave out my math teacher, Mr. Mendoza. He is a person who cares for all of his students and a teacher who I have to thank because he has helped me make crucial decisions in my life. He has always been there for me and is willing to help with any situation. I also have to thank Mr. Lamb who helped me build leadership skills and has brought me out of my comfort zone. So, I thank God, my family and my educators for preparing me for what the world has to offer, as I am excited to start this next chapter in my life.

Photograph of Timmy Martinez

I’m Timmy Martinez from Pasco High School, and I'm going to start it off by saying that I will not be pursuing a law degree, engineering degree or anything of that sort. I want to be a teacher! Not just any teacher, either. I want to pursue a degree in teaching with a minor in sports medicine. With this degree, I'll be able to become a sports medicine teacher, a health teacher, or a weight lifting/PE teacher.

One of the many reasons I've decided upon this degree is because of my wrestling coach, Jay Covington. He helped me realize that “life isn't about how much money you make, but whether you are doing something you love. If you are, then it's not a job, but a career." So I just want to thank Mr. Covington for everything—the life lessons and all.

The best part is that if I get that degree, I may be able to work at Pasco High in a couple of years. Not only teaching but being a coach for wrestling in the winter and a trainer for the school during the fall and spring seasons. At least, that's my goal—if not at Pasco then hopefully some other high school where I'll be able to help kids reach their full potential like Coach Covington did with me.

This fall, I'm going to school at Newberry College. I know you're probably thinking, where the heck is that? Well, it's in the small town of Newberry, South Carolina. I know such a long ways from home—my mom says the same thing! It all started when an assistant coach from Newberry sent an email to our athletic director, and couple of emails and phone calls later, I had an official visit to Newberry to see the campus and team. I walked out of the terminal and it was cloudy. Not a great start South Carolina. The Newberry coach drove me and another recruit to the campus to meet the current team. They seemed nice enough, and we all went out to eat at a little pizzeria, which was amazing! The next day, I woke up to a beautiful bright sun welcoming me. That was more like it! The coach showed us the campus and it was beautiful as well, bright red brick building and wildlife everywhere! I thought that was it, how could it get any better. Well, then the coach showed me the wresting room and took us to eat some homemade barbecue. Now it really couldn't get any better. The next day, I flew back in to Seattle and my dad picked me up. I couldn't stop talking about it. I knew from then that it was the place for me.