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School Days: Gilroy Unified School District Spotlight on 2018 GUSD Grads By Melanie Corona, Public Information Officer, Gilroy Unified School District I In June, our four district high schools, Gilroy High, Christopher High, Mt. Madonna, and Dr. TJ Owens Early College Academy (GECA) honored 784 graduates in ceremonies throughout the community. Graduation is always a time of renewed faith in the world as our graduating seniors embark on the next phase of their journeys: college, workforce, military service, and life in general. The school district is proud to recognize all of our amazing Class of 2018 graduates across the district through four examples that follow. attend Westmont College in the fall, majoring in biochemistry/pre-med and music with a possible additional major in history or communications. Michael is considering a medical career focusing on specialized surgery, psychiatry with an emphasis in mental illness, or oncology. Michael served as GECA’s Class President for four years and as ASB President during his senior year. He received GECA’s 2018 Character Counts Award and the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Susan Valenta Youth Leadership Award. His high school years taught him that he doesn’t need to change the whole world to consider his life meaningful. “By using my gifts to improve the lives of people in the small communities God has put me in, I’ve discovered that life isn’t so much about how many people I reach but how much positive change I can inspire in peoples ’ lives, even if I only end up helping a few individuals.” Pranavi Kethanaboyina (GECA graduate) will take her talents to Stanford University in the fall as a Science, Technology and Society major. Pranavi wants to be a Social Entrepre- neur, pursuing clean water initiatives and world literacy. During her junior year, she completed her Girl Scout Gold Award project by organizing a STEAM Club for elementary school students at Las Animas. The club has since been extended to two other schools serving 100 students. Pranavi worked with the Miss CEO organization to launch a Gilroy-based pilot program for high school students; helping with curriculum planning and serving as the organization’s fi rst high school ambassador. During her senior year, Pranavi worked with the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce to launch a local TEDx event, “Be the Change,” for youth speakers. Pranavi served in ASB and the Interact Club, and participated in the Santa Clara County Offi ce of Women’s Policy Girls Advisory Team. Pranavi credits her father with teaching her to take initiative and problem-solve to chart the course of her life. 66 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Sloane Pace (Gilroy High School Valedictorian) will attend UC Berkeley in the fall to major in Molecular and Cell Biology and minor in Public Policy. Her career goal is to practice maternal/ fetal medicine. Sloane was a member of the Gilroy High Biomedical Science Academy student cohort. She served as the high school’s student representative to the GUSD School Board, sang in the chamber choir, competed as a varsity gymnast for the Mustangs, and was named as the Paul Thompson Inspirational Athlete. She participated in Girl Scouts and received the Silver Award for her blog that provided fashion advice to young women affected by scoliosis. This summer, she completed her duties as Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen, coached the Xcel gymnasts at USA Sports. She will represent Gilroy in a Sister Cities visit to Takko-machi, Japan, in September. In her valedictory speech, Sloane said, “I believe that being a student here has changed me for the better and that being a Mustang has changed us all [class of 2018] for good.” Sergio Jimenez (Gilroy High School graduate) will attend the honors program at UC Davis in the fall, majoring in environmental engineering, with the hopes of working for the Envi- ronmental Protection Agency or a Water District. He is passionate about environ- mental conservation and wants to raise the standard of living through environ- mental improvements in his commu- nity. At Gilroy High, Sergio participated in CSF, Interact Club and Link Crew. He was also a track and fi eld and cross-country athlete for the Mustangs. When asked about his high school experience, Sergio shared that a lesson he learned time and again was to “help if you can help, and not help for a reward or recognition, but because it’s the right thing to do.” AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 gmhtoday.com Michael Kong (GECA graduate) will