Thelma Salinas STEM Top 3 head to UTRGV in the fall
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Valedictorian – Tifanee Gonzalez
As Valedictorian for Thelma R. Salinas STEM Early College High School, Tifanee Gonzalez embodies the definition of dedication.
Her perseverance, humility, and dedication to self-improvement have enabled her to achieve and attain respect from her educators, her peers, and her family. Born to Myra and Rolando Rodriguez, Tifanee has elected to finish her collegiate education at the University of Texas Rio Grande where she will receive her bachelor’s degree in biomedical with a minor in biochemistry, and proceed to her dream of attending medical school to emerge as an emergency physician or receive a doctorate in physical therapy.
As a star basketball player for her school, Tifanee’s journey to graduation hit an unexpected setback when she suffered from a ruptured ACL, torn meniscus and strain MCL of the right knee. This forced her to face an atypical and treacherous recovery in her senior year that she felt put her athletic career in peril.
However, as a three-year letterman athlete in Basketball she was the recipient of All-Academic Team Honors Basketball, Honorable Mention Basketball, Scholar Athlete, two-year letterman in softball, National Honor Society president, and an officer with the Health Occupations Students of America, Tifanee hadn’t come this far to let it all slip away. The initial recovery time was set for eight months; Tifanee was back at 100 percent in three.
Salutatorian – Renato Barrera
Renato Ely Barrera is the only son of Francisco Javier Barrera and Susana Belem Parra.
As the salutatorian at Thelma R. Salinas STEM Early College High School, Renato will be graduating with 84 college hours and an associate’s degree in engineering from South Texas College. He decided to stay locally and study at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where he will be pursuing a bachelor’s in Computer Engineering. Renato plans to earn a place at a top job in the future, buying a nice house, starting a family, then invest to increase opportunities for his family.
Renato has learned to become mature and focused on his goals and ambitions and thanks those close to him for becoming the young man he is today. This includes his parents who he says put him on a “good path” from a young age, a grandmother who urged him to do well in school and fueled his determination, and Mrs. Guerra, his kindergarten teacher, who he calls his most influential mentor. She gave him a strong foundation in English and math, with his skills only growing exponentially after her class.
As a member of the National Honor Society, Renato has been able to complete a total of over 120 community service hours throughout the year in several activities such as a beach cleanup, reading with children, lock-ins, and hospital fairs. He attempted to run for senior class president this past year and, although he was not successful, that did not diminish his pride and motivation for the organization.
Third-Ranking Student – Patricia Guerrero
Patricia Guerrero is the daughter of Maria Patricia Guerrero and J. Salvador Guerrero and the third-ranked student at Thelma R. Salinas STEM Early College High School.
Patricia grew up in a small town in Guanajuato, MX to a loving, hardworking, and big family who emigrated to the U.S.
She was excited about the move, but nervous and afraid of it at the same time. It was not easy for her to learn English and adapt to a new country, but she was determined to do just that.
Throughout her journey in school, she has always had caring and motivating teachers who gave her the courage and confidence she needed to succeed.
Patricia will not only be graduating with a high school diploma, she will be graduating with an associate degree in engineering from South Texas College. Patricia plans to attend the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where she will be pursuing a degree in civil engineering.
Later in her life, Patricia will attend law school because helping those that need it the most is something she is passionate about. Patricia’s biggest inspiration and motivation is her family, and making them proud and working toward having a better life so her parents know everything they sacrificed for her was indeed worth it.
Throughout her high school years, Patricia has volunteered at multiple events in the school district and with several organizations such as Capable Kids Foundation and Beach Cleanups.
These experiences have allowed her to appreciate life, and realize that there is good in everything. Most importantly, she has been able to help others; tenets she vows to continue abiding by.