Chiazo Agina will skip much of her senior year at Sanger High, but her teachers are OK with it.
The 16-year-old is headed to the United World College in New Mexico, a competitive boarding school that promotes international studies and multicultural understanding. There, she will finish out her high school career alongside students from around the world who share her passion for social justice.
“Before college, I wanted a different outlook on the world,” Agina said. “(UWC) is big on community service, and I really wanted to give back more and to push myself.”
Agina is used to pushing herself. She has had straight A’s since the moment she set foot in Sanger High. She plays several instruments, including the guitar and the saxophone, and is currently learning Spanish. She’s also involved in the Black Student Union and is interested in the performing arts, crediting a recent stint at the STAGES drama camp for her desire to branch out into new, creative experiences.
“She’s one of those kids who I really see going out and changing the world and making it a better place,” said Agina’s teacher Sherry Satterberg. “She’s good at seeing the other side of issues and is just amazing and humble.”
Both Satterberg and Sanger High assistant principal Andrew Popp nominated Agina as an Academic All-Star, not knowing the other had the same idea. But she’s an obvious choice – the teachers joke about how one day they’ll be voting her into office.
“She really is the epitome of what a leader is,” Popp said. “She seeks out challenges and information unlike any student I’ve ever worked with and goes above and beyond in everything she does.”
School: Sanger High School
Parents: Cornelius and Hyacintha Agina
Achievements: Agina has a 4.3 GPA and is the recipient of the Camp Rising Sun Scholarship. She has been accepted into the United World College and also excels as a musician in the school marching band and as a member of the Black Student Union, the Spanish Club and other organizations.
ELEVENTH GRADE HONORABLE MENTIONS
Caleb Harbin, 16, Fresno
School: Clovis West High School
Parents: Susan Harbin and Olga Balderama
Achievements: Harbin excelled as the lead in Clovis West’s production of “The Music Man” – a title that is fitting in life off the stage, as well. He’s a member of the marching band, jazz band and chamber choir, as well as cantor at Holy Family Church, all while maintaining a 4.2 GPA. But it’s his infectious positivity that is his real talent, says his teacher Elizabeth Fiester. “As all good leaders do, Caleb leads by example,” she said.
Michael Vinh-Thang Truong, 17, Fresno
School: University High School
Parents: Peter and Theresa Truong
Achievements: With a 4.6 GPA, TruongMichael has maintained straight A’s at arguably the most challenging high school in the region. He’s also a member of the University High debate team and an academic peer mentor, as well as an accomplished piano and cello player. But his passion is being a Boy Scout. He recently earned the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.
Kaylin McKinney, 17, Madera
School: Madera High School
Parents: Cherisse and Scott McKinney
Achievements: McKinney juggles her time on the golf course and 4.2 GPA with her love for the 4-H Club. She shows cattle at the county fair every year and has participated in events at the state level. She is a Teen Leader Award winner, among the highest-ranking awards given by Madera County 4-H. That work ethic stays true inside the classroom, too. “She has very strong study habits and a positive attitude that helps her (succeed) academically,” said her mother, Cherisse McKinney.
- Age: 16
- School: Sanger High School
- Home: Fresno
- Parents: Cornelius and Hyacintha Agina