Sharyland High School’s Top Three to Continue Leadership Path

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In life, there are two types of people. Those who lead, and those who follow. It takes a tremendous amount of motivation, effort, and discipline to become one of the few leaders in this world, but at the end of the day, all the determination and hard work pays off in ways we, sometimes, can’t imagine. Three examples of such leaders are Julio Alberto Contreras, Joshua Jones, and Mark Stephens, this year’s top three students.

2017’s Valedictorian, Julio Contreras, plans to attend Stanford University in California to major in Earth System Science. Also, this fall he plans to study Democracy, Development, the Rule of Law, and Sustainability Studies.

“My goal is to one day infuse both of these disciplines into a professional career as an Environmental Lawyer,” he said. “And help set the legal foundation for the massive transition to sustainable development and energy that will be necessary within the coming years.”

Being selected as Valedictorian is not an easy task to accomplish, especially when all the pressure lies on you. However, Julio’s situation was different as he credits other people for motivating him to continue and obtain the success he now has. “My mom was always there for me.” Julio said. “I had a ton of teachers that helped me such as Miss Salinas and Miss Garza.”

And, after seeing all his dedication pay off, he says “it feels good.”

It has been a tough journey for senior Julio Contreras, but even though his high school years are over, he confesses the one thing that these past years have taught him, and that he will always remember.

“I learned to appreciate hard work,” He states. “It pays off, and it’s all worth it.”

Salutatorian Joshua Jones also finishes his four years with excitement and prepares to face his future, which will be either at the University of Texas in Austin to receive a dual degree in Business and Engineering, or at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Joshua picked this path so that he can be a part of the emerging technological world with the mindset of changing it for the betterment of society, which comes as no surprise since his academic areas of concentration in high school were business, math, and science.

These past four years have not been an easy journey for this year’s Salutatorian, since he has dedicated his efforts and time to multiple extracurricular activities, clubs, and school events, such as UIL Math, Masterminds, and Business Professionals of America. However, despite the difficult agenda, Joshua never lost the motivation thanks to Mr. Nava, his Calculus teacher and UIL math coach, who impacted and inspired him.

“Through my time in his class, he has showed me that it’s okay to ask questions and ask why.” Joshua shares. “He has shown me that there are infinite ways to solve any problem. I have been fortunate to have Mr. Nava. His competitive nature pushed me and the rest of our team, which lead us to eventually winning State. But, what I was most inspired by was the devotion he had. The devotion he has to his craft and his friendship are things that I will always be grateful for.”

Finally, third- ranking student, Mark Stephens, plans to attend Texas A&M University to major in Business since he considers it to be an exciting path that could lead to many different places.

And as he prepares to commence his life out there in the real world, like the others, Mark says goodbye to his first years of complete dedication and his last years as a high school student.

For his success throughout his years, Mark confesses he feels proud of what he has done and accomplished, and he credits himself for his success. “I pushed myself through all these years of study,” He states. “And, it feels good to get to feel proud of yourself and see that all your effort paid off.”
Mark will not only leave his academics behind, but his sport, soccer, which he managed to play in between his tight school schedule. “You can find balance in school and your sport and be the best in both,” Mark tells us. “It’s all about distributing your time wisely.”

It takes nothing to be a follower. But, it takes everything to be a leader. This year, these three young men will conclude a crucial chapter of their lives to have a new beginning that will open a new path of experiences and opportunities. This year, they will start a new life, and we couldn’t be any prouder.

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Sharyland High School’s Top Three to Continue Leadership Path