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Valedictorian Damien Gonzalez
Veterans Memorial High School valedictorian, Damien Gonzalez, is the son of Rodolfo and Maricela Gonzalez. Damien plans to attend Rice University and pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Gonzalez said his dream job would be to work at Space X as an engineer, but he also has aspirations to one day be talk show host. Before heading to Houston in the fall as a Bill Gates Scholar, Damien said he will be taking some Columbia University online courses and also will head out to Los Angeles, California to attend the Bill Gates Scholarship Conference.
Gonzalez is really excited about this, since it will be his first time in California. When he does leave for college, he will miss his family and friends the most, but looks forward to new endeavors while at the university.
Gonzalez is looking forward to the opportunity to join a big plan project as part of the working engineering design kitchen projects. In addition to his studies, he was extremely busy with his extra-curricular activities such as U.I.L. Academics Number Sense, Math, Calculators, and Science, Science Bowl, SeaPerch, HOSA, Concert, Marching and Jazz Bands, Masterminds, Wrestling, Texas Math and Coaches Association, National Honor Society, and Student Council.
U.I.L. Academics has been a part of his life since a young age, and Gonzalez credits Coach Jesus Montoya for his nickname “The bean with a dream.” His nickname was given to him by his coach at a competition, due to him freaking out at competing in a larger stage in San Antonio.
Gonzalez leaves next year’s seniors with a few words: you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room just the hardest worker. If you put the time in with sweat, blood and tears you will achieve anything you set your mind to. Always constantly try to be the best version of yourself.
Salutatorian Rodrigo Moran
This year’s Veterans Memorial High School salutatorian is Rodrigo Moran. He is the son of Martin and Ana Lisa Moran.
Moran plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin and pursue a degree in economics, a field in which he sees himself pursuing a doctoral degree as well. He stated that once he receives his bachelor’s degree, he would like to seek employment with the government or a company to gain experience.
Rodrigo’s plans for the summer include getting a job to earn some money that will help with expenses while he is seeking higher education. There are two things he is looking forward to as he starts college: his independence and experiencing a diversity of cultures.
Moran will miss his family and friends when he is in Austin. He is extremely thankful for his U.I.L. Coach David Land for his guidance, and to Mission CISD for celebrating student successes unlike other districts. This served as a great motivation for him.
While in high school Rodrigo was busy with his studies as well as extra-curricular activities such as U.I.L. Science and Current Events, Science Bowl, SeaPerch, Tennis, National Honor Society Vice President and UT Austin Texas Boys State. He leaves the Class of 2021 with a few words: enjoy the moments that you have with your friends. Life happens really fast so enjoy the little moments.
Third-Ranking Student Kelly Nguyen Lam
The Third-Ranking Student for Veterans Memorial High School is Kelly Nguyen Lam, the daughter of Xuan Lam. She is headed to the University of Houston this fall and will be seeking a degree in biology. Lam’s ultimate goal is to obtain a doctorate degree in Optometry and open her own practice.
Lam’s summer plans include working and getting prepared for her move to Houston in July. She also wants to take a couple of courses at South Texas College or the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley before she makes her move.
As she attends the University of Houston as an honors student, Lam is looking forward to doing research and to being exposed to new cultures. She wants to meet new people with diverse backgrounds.
Lam will definitely miss her family and friends while she is away, but knows that they won’t be far. She is very thankful to all her teachers for making her aware and helping her take advantage of certain opportunities.
While in high school Kelly stayed busy with her studies as well as extra-curricular activities such as Band (clarinet) as the Head Drum Major, National Honor Society, HOSA and UIL Spelling. She leaves next year’s seniors with a few words: do what makes you happy because your senior year can be stressful. Just work hard and never give up. There are always people available to help you along the way like teachers and counselors. Enjoy everything your senior has to offer because you never know what can happen.