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First in the Family

First in The Family

These Exceptional Seniors are in the Top 10 of their Class and the First in Their Family to Go to College


Valerie Lugo

Valerie Lugo – East Union High School

For Valerie, going to college is getting her one step closer to her dream career of being a pediatric nurse.

Valerie’s parents immigrated to the United States at a young age and were not able to go to college, but they shared this dream for their children. “I know many people do not get this opportunity and I am extremely grateful that I am able to pursue higher education,” shared Valerie.

In the college search process, it was Valerie’s counselor Ms. Susan Taiariol who assisted her along the way. Ms. Taiariol helped Valerie narrow her search, in line with her dream career, and found which schools were the best for nursing in California.

Valerie will be attending California State University, Chico in the fall. 




Julissa Aguilar

Julissa Aguilar – Lathrop High School

When asked what the opportunity to go to college means for her, Julissa said there’s “truly no words for it.”

Going to college is a huge accomplishment for Julissa and her family, as her parents were unable to attend college. She was inspired to pursue higher education because she is interested in helping others through bioengineering and hopes that the research she will do could make a difference in people’s lives.

Navigating the next step was not easy, but with the help of educators, including Lathrop High English Literature teacher Mrs. Ogbeide, Julissa is eager to take the next step to college.

“Mrs. Ogbeide helped me throughout high school by directing me to workshops that allowed me to explore different fields and help me decide what career I might be most interested in,” said Julissa.

Julissa will be attending the University of the Pacific in the fall.


Elise Miller

Elise Miller – Manteca High School

Elise was encouraged to pursue higher education and make a better life for herself by her older brother Nathaniel.

She shared that as she was about to enter high school, Nathaniel sat her down and talked with her about mistakes he had made along the way. Specifically, he told her how much better her life could be if she took high school seriously. Nathaniel is super proud that Elise will now be representing their family as the first to attend college.

“Because of him, I was able to work so hard,” shared Elise. She ended up going above and beyond, graduating as her school’s Salutatorian. Elise wants to extend her deepest gratitude to Mrs. Haskett and Mrs. Smith, who helped her “a whole lot” with her personal insight questions on the UC applications.

Elise hopes to make the world a better place through her studies in Environmental Science as she embarks on a mission to find solutions to protect the environment.

Elise will be attending the University of California, Los Angeles in the fall.


Zoe Kossart – Sierra High School

“I’m very excited to go to college, and I feel so proud.”

For Zoe, her parents have inspired her to go to college from day one. With family as her biggest motivator, she has worked extremely hard and will continue to do so in school so that she can make the future even brighter for her own children down the road.

She shared that she wants to have a career where she spends her time doing something she’s proud of, something that will make a difference.

Zoe cannot wait to continue to “defy the barriers of what people in [her] family have been able to do,” and is excited to start a new tradition in her family of pursuing higher education.

Zoe will be attending the University of California, Santa Barbara in the fall.




Diego Zamora Martinez

Diego Martinez – Weston Ranch High School

Diego has been enthralled with airplanes and the science behind them from a very young age.

As he prepares to graduate high school, he is one step closer to making his dream of becoming an aerospace engineer a reality.

What really cemented this dream for Diego was his Robotics Club advisor and Computer Science teacher Mr. Cliff Borden. “Mr. Borden is the reason I decided to pursue this field, the way he taught computer science really stuck with me and opened my eyes to a whole new view of technology,” he shared.

Another huge motivator for Diego is his family, specifically his father. “My dad works really hard, and I hope that by going to college I can support my parents and give back to them for all they’ve done for me”, shared Diego.” While Diego was not pressured to go to college, his parents are extremely proud of him and the pathway that he has chosen for himself.

Diego will be attending the University of California, Berkeley this fall.

  • Student Achievement