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Seniors Julia Montero Oliva and Humberto Sesmas earned the distinction of Valedictorian and Salutatorian for the Class of 2021 at Hempstead High School.

The duo believes it has been family support that has helped them achieve success.

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“My motivating factor is my family. Seeing my parents struggle as they moved to a different country motivated me to make them proud,” Montero Oliva said. “I realized the only way I could prove that to them was through my work at school. Education is my top priority because that way I will be able to make a living for myself and open many doors for my family.”

For Sesmas, it was something that his parents said that gave him the focus he needed.

“My parents always told me that a pencil was a lot lighter than a shovel and, what they mean by that is that going to school and doing good is going to get me a much easier job with a more promising pay.”

Both scholars experienced and accepted the challenges of staying at the top of their class.

“Before coming to High School, I didn’t know what ranks were,” Montero Oliva said. “I knew it was important when being considered for colleges, but I never thought I’d be top in my class. It wasn’t until the end of my freshmen year that I was told I was number one that I realized maintaining that position would be my goal.”

The HHS Salutatorian’s challenge came from his peers and the pandemic.

“I decided to become top of my class the day my classmates told me I would never do it,” Sesmas said. “Staying at the top of my class was not so much of a challenge up until the pandemic. The pandemic threw me off but, I slowly got back on my feet.”

The two seniors believe the journey is just as important as fulfilling their goal.

“The HISD experience was good and it has taught me valuable lessons,” Humberto said. “To me being at the top of the class helped me realize that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.”

“When I got to high school, I felt like it was a fresh start where I could let my grades show that I was determined to be successful,” Julia said. “I fell to second place

my sophomore year and that helped a lot to remain focused on winning the 1st place back. I made some lifelong friends and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to graduate from this school.”

A journey at Sam Houston State awaits Julia.

“I plan to major in nursing and then get my master’s degree from my dream school, the University of Texas.”

Humberto is joining the United States Marine Corps.

“I plan on shipping out in August. I chose the Marine Corp to challenge myself and further demonstrate that no task is too hard with the right mentality.”

Joining Julia and Humberto in the top 10 percent are six Bobcats who also plan to continue their journey in education. Jay Patel will attend the University of Texas at Austin to work on his finance degree with a minor in marketing and/or public policy. Madison Kwiatkowski will attend Sam Houston State to major in veterinary medicine.

Aneliz Rodriguez plans to attend Blinn College to work on an accounting degree. Brandon Moreno plans to attend Blinn College and transfer to Rice University to work on becoming a physician’s assistant.

Strella Sugay-Garcia will attend Blinn College in the fall and transfer to Texas A & M to pursue a plant and soil science degree. Gustavo Moreno plans to attend Prairie View A & M University and earn a degree in construction science.

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