It’s hard to say which of Adrian Figueroa’s accomplishments are most impressive.
Is it his 4.1 GPA at Tranquillity High School or his .429 batting average on the varsity baseball team? Is it his talents as president of the marching band or his many hours spent volunteering as a tutor for struggling students?
Philip Ayerza, Figueroa’s teacher and baseball coach, says it’s his leadership skills.
“He’s a leader. He’s on top of every class, and he’s really improved as an athlete. All the kids come to him when they need help,” Ayerza said. “He’s just a wonderful kid. It’s very hard to find any fault with him.
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“Adrian tutors young students and ensures that his siblings are well prepared, educationally, for high school. He is a wonderful, intelligent young man who I believe will achieve great things.”
Ayerza says Figueroa’s accomplishments are especially impressive given the challenges many students living in Tranquillity face. The impoverished school district is still recovering from the drought, with many families struggling with unemployment because of a lack of farm work.
“It’s very tough for these kids. There’s not a lot of brightness in their lives,” Ayerza said. “But I’ve got to tell you, kids like Adrian keep coming back the next day. They’re very resilient.”
The 18-year-old is headed to UCLA to study political science, with goals of becoming an attorney specializing in immigration law. Figueroa’s parents are both Mexican immigrants.
“I like being able to help others,” he said. “I want to see other people succeed, not just myself.”
School: Tranquillity High School
Parents: Rigoberto and Ilda Figueroa
Achievements: Figueroa has a 4.1 GPA and an equally impressive batting average on the school baseball team. He is student body vice president and president of the marching band. This fall he is headed to UCLA and hopes to become a lawyer.
TWELFTH GRADE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Pahoua Yang, 17, Fresno
School: Sunnyside High School
Parents: Xa Vang and Chua Yang
Achievements: In addition to a 4.2 GPA, Yang excels as a badminton player despite a rare condition that has left her with undeveloped fingers and misshapen hands. It hasn’t slowed her down. She also finds time to dance, competing across the state with her Korean Pop group, Sugar Coated. Read more about Yang here.
Cecilia Vergara, 17, Fresno
School: Edison High School
Parents: Tomas and Isidira Vergara
Achievements: Vergara is a valedictorian at Edison and will be the first of her family to go to college. She has juggled advanced course work with burdens many high schoolers do not face. Between classes, she works as a farmworker and helps take care of her younger siblings. She also has an interest in community service, volunteering for the American Cancer Society, Toys for Tots and the Poverello House.
Gregory Weaver, 18, Fresno
School: Bullard High School
Parents: Michelle and Greg Weaver
Achievements: Weaver is ranked No. 1 in his class of more than 600 at Bullard High. In addition to a 4.3 GPA, he has aced classes like calculus and physics at Fresno City College during his high school career. He does all this while excelling at baseball – he currently plays for the Miami Marlins scout team. It’s no surprise he’s going to Stanford University, which has among the lowest acceptance rates in the country.
- Age: 18
- School: Tranquillity High School
- Home: Tranquillity
- Parents: Rigoberto and Ilda Figueroa