Monday, July 23 , 2018, 7:06 am | Fair 64º


Two North County Students Accepted at Harvard

Two students in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District soon might pick up Massachusetts accents after receiving acceptance letters from Harvard.

The students, Erik Ruiz of Pioneer Valley High School and Mariana De Leon of Santa Maria High School, have excelled academically, performed community service and mastered leadership skills inside and outside of the classroom.

Ruiz, who has been accepted on a full-ride scholarship, has a 4.67 grade point average. He’s racked up 258 hours of community service, is a Link Crew leader and president of the California Scholarship Federation and Key Club.

“I am leaning on attending at this moment, but I am going to wait and see what happens,’’ Ruiz said. “Regardless, it’s a very humbling accomplishment to be lucky enough to be accepted.

"I believe this accomplishment validates the struggle my parents, grandparents, and community have made. It’s not only my goal but everyone else’s to make sure the sacrifices people have made for us pay off.’’

Pioneer Principal Shanda Herrera described Ruiz as “a model student who is kind and well-liked by his classmates. We are so proud to have Erik as one of this year’s 2017 graduates.’’

De Leon, who has a 4.5 grade point average, is the ASB president, SMHS FFA (Future Farmers of America) vice president, and former member of the 2015 State and National Champion Milk Quality & Dairy Products Team, among other positions.

“I’m excited to be around the diverse population of Harvard students,’’ said De Leon, adding she arrives at the university the first week of August. “I plan to join the Minority Recruitment group to help others and also join the Harvard Student Government and apply what I leaned from ASB here.

"I want to enjoy the beautiful East Coast scenery and campus.

"This year has been awesome," De Leon said. "I made tons of memories, from filing out college and financial-aid applications, to competing in girls basketball and FFA activities. I’m looking forward to graduation and putting a cap on high school.’’

Santa Maria High Principal Joe Domingues said: “Mariana, on a daily basis, has the commitment to succeed in and out of the classroom. Her dedication to achieve the best is what makes her amazing.’’

Some notable Harvard graduates are Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy and Bill Gates.

— Kenny Klein for Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.


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