The class of 2017 at Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy is filled with many goal-oriented, career-minded individuals. Learn about just a few of them as they prepare for the commencement of their next steps. The MHS graduation ceremony is scheduled for May 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Ram Stadium. Co-valedictorians are Alfred Abraham and John Blodgett. Salutatorian is Rachel Blakely. The SPA ceremony is May 26 at 7 p.m. in its gymnasium. Valedictorian is Hailey Cantrell. Salutatorian is Anali Warner.
Born in India and raised his first three years in Singapore, Abraham is the co-valedictorian of Maricopa High School’s graduating class. Considered to be “Special Ed” early in school, he has since been the academic leader of the Class of 2017 all through high school, with his career sights set on biomedical engineering.
Originally from: India
Career goals: Engineer
Accomplishment: Member of a team that placed eighth out of 24 in a Vex Robotics competition with limited time and resources to prepare compared to other teams.
Reaction: I was initially surprised. For much of the competition, my team was doing just average; it stayed at 12th place out of 24. But then, after the last three or four rounds, we ended up in eighth place. Immediately after a moment of surprise, I felt happy. The skill of my teammates was a key factor in our success, and I was proud of what we accomplished. This prepared me for the workforce as Vex Robotics promotes the development of scientific and mathematical skills, skills that are essential for engineering.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I will attend ASU in August in order to get at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. While in college, I will do internships in my specific field, biomedical engineering, that will give me some career-related experience. I also aim to get a part-time job around Maricopa after my graduation so I can get some experience in the workplace.
A long-timer by local standards, Blakely has been a Maricopa resident since kindergarten and is now the salutatorian of her class at Maricopa High School. As a freshman she was already taking junior-level math and tackled senior-level math as a sophomore, setting herself on the path to a career.
Years in Maricopa: 13
Originally from: Mesa
Career goal: High school math teacher
Accomplishment: Being two years ahead in math
Reaction: Proud of my hard work and realized it was something I wanted to do in my life after high school.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? Attend University of Portland and major in secondary education and mathematics, hard work, determination and dedication.
A co-valedictorian at Maricopa High School, Blodgett is a cadet major in the Air Force Junior ROTC program, Link Crew leader, National Honor Society member, teacher assistant, Robotics team member, member of cross country and track teams and a member of Si Se Puede Foundation. He received two military academy appointments and chose West Point.
Years in Maricopa: 12
Originally from: Phoenix
Career goal: U.S. Army officer
Accomplishment: Receiving appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point
Reaction: I was very excited! Knowing that all of my hard work in high school had gotten me accepted to one of the best schools in the country caused great joy to surge through me.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I plan on continuing to strive for my goals by trying to be the best I can in everything I do, while at the same time helping others do the same.
Cantrell is the valedictorian at Sequoia Pathway Academy. A member of the National Honor Society, she has been on every Principal’s List throughout high school. She completed two college English courses and a child development course and has been a mentor. She will attend Grand Canyon University and plans to return to PSA as an assistant Student Council advisor.
Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Newport Beach, California
Career goal: Teacher, administrator, professor
Accomplishment: Student Council president for two years
Reaction: We all went through our speeches, and when I finished everyone smiled. It made me happy because I was elected to lead and better our school.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I will continue to stay organized, responsible and not give up. Also, this career is what makes me happy. I just want to help students; I want to teach them valuable lessons.
Chanpraphap’s family moved to the United States when she was 7 years old and moved from Virginia to Maricopa when she was in fifth grade. A gifted art student at Maricopa High School, she also runs cross country and track.
Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Thailand
Career goal: Art teacher
Accomplishment: Won second place at Art on the Veranda against professionals
Reaction: I went to help out at Art on the Veranda expecting it to be the same as last year, where all I did was help sell art pieces, but during the early morning session I noticed a judge circling around my art piece and examining it. I did not want to get my hopes up so I kind of pushed it to the back of my mind, to the point that I actually forgot about it altogether. So it came as a big shock when the judge came back around and told me to go get my ribbon in front of a small crowd!
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? Attend NAU majoring in art education in the fall, and once I am more financially independent I would like to attend an actual art school, preferably The Art Institute of Chicago.
Crabajales has been involved with a number of institutions around town, from Youth Council to Maricopa Police Department, while being a member of the National Honor Society and DECA at Maricopa High School. She is a Link Crew leader and school newspaper editor.
Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Philippines
Career goal: United Nations nurse
Accomplishment: Having the opportunity to volunteer with the different organizations in Maricopa. It led me to find my passion in helping to serve others.
Reaction: One day that really stuck out to me was when I was volunteering for Against Abuse Inc. with their latest gala. That night I saw how much the cause meant a lot to people and I felt like I was a part of something great. I realized how much I enjoyed giving back to my community.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I plan on taking steps before leaping to my main goal of being a United Nations nurse by attending college and later specializing in forensics so that I gain plenty of experience and help plenty of people along the way.
Curtis has grown from being the Maricopa Unified School District spelling champ in elementary school to a virtual repertory actor in four plays a year. She will attend a private conservatory in New York City.
Years in Maricopa: 7
Originally from: Denver, Colorado
Career goal: Broadway performer
Accomplishment: Cast as Madame Thenardier in “Les Miserables”
Reaction: It was my favorite role out of the 12 I’ve been able to do at MHS.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I’m attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy to pursue musical theatre to continue my training.
An accomplished singer and actor, garnering scores of Excellent and Superior in state competition, Mase came to Maricopa High School from Legacy Traditional School.
Years in Maricopa: 5
Originally from: New York
Career goal: Broadway performer and theater teacher
Accomplishment: Playing Javert in “Les Miserables”
Reaction: I was ecstatic. Javert has been one of my dream roles, and I was amazed that I had the opportunity to portray his character as a high schooler.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I am planning on pursuing an education in musical theatre. After getting the training I need, I am going to move to New York and start auditioning for shows on Broadway. After obtaining my degree I would also like to become certified to teach theatre so I can continue to inspire students just as my high school theatre teacher inspired me.
Karla Orci Vega
Orci Vega is on track to earn two nursing certificates through CAVIT by her Maricopa High School graduation. Also a softball player, she is planning to earn her master’s degree in nursing, taking her next educational step at Central Arizona College.
Years in Maricopa: 11
Originally from: Tempe
Career goal: Nurse practitioner
Accomplishment: Getting accepted into the CAVIT Nursing Program
Reaction: I got a letter in the mail telling me I was accepted into the program. I felt relieved because it was a huge step in the right direction for me. It made me feel excited as well because it would help me determine if nursing would be the right career for me.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals going forward? I will be attending CAC in Maricopa. Then I will transfer to ASU and finish school there.
A child of immigrants, Paternina took several AP classes at Sequoia Pathway Academy after advancing from Leading Edge Academy, received a class poetry award her junior year and was named Homecoming queen this year. She will attend Northern Arizona University.
Years in Maricopa: 11
Originally from: Clifton, New Jersey
Career goal: Cultural studies
Accomplishment: Full-ride scholarship to NAU
Reaction: I still recall the utmost joy I felt upon receiving the admission call that fateful day in November. I was home alone and could not stop thanking the admissions officer after she told me, and upon my parents’ arrival home, could not stop the beam that overtook my features when telling them the news of my admission.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I plan on achieving these goals by applying and pushing myself toward excellence and beyond boundaries in college, and by exposing myself to new opportunities by putting myself out there. After university, I plan on joining the Peace Corps and embarking on a two-year mission abroad in Colombia, in order to give back to my parents’ home country, which I would be nothing without.
Sims came to Maricopa High School as a freshman and soon set a goal to obtain a master’s degree in law. Wanting to do that as soon as possible, she attended summer school to put her on the path to graduating a year early and will attend Arizona State University.
Years in Maricopa: 3
Originally from: Joliet, Illinois
Career goal: Criminal attorney
Accomplishment: Completing two classes of summer school to qualify for early graduation
Reaction: During the last day of my summer classes I was anxious and relieved because I knew the following summer I’d be getting ready to go to college to finally start my dream career.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals going forward? I’ll complete 10 years of schooling and within the first eight years I’ll do internships to build up my skill to become a criminal lawyer.
An honor roll student at Maricopa High School, Torres is a nursing program student in CAVIT, helping at a clinic in Sacaton. He has worked blood drives and helped feed needy children. He will attend Central Arizona College.
Originally from: Brooklyn, New York
Career goal: Physical therapist/sports medicine
Accomplishment: CAVIT Clinics
Reaction: The CAVIT clinics helped people. It was heart-warming and breath-taking.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? Going to CAC for two years, thanks to my Promise to the Future, then I’ll transfer to a four-year university that specializes in my desired profession. Most important part to achieve my goal is hard work and dedication.
Vasquez leaped two grades to graduate early from Sequoia Pathway Academy, where she took four AP courses, has a 4.3 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society. She used online courses to teach herself quantum mechanics. She will attend Arizona State University Barrett Honors College.
Years in Maricopa: 11
Originally from: Southern California
Career goal: Professional puzzle solver (aka mechanical engineer)
Accomplishment: Graduating two years early
Reaction: The day that it sunk in I was graduating at 15 was the most excited (and terrified) I had ever felt. The sense of accomplishment was so outstanding that all my fears were set aside because I had no doubt in my mind that this was the best choice that I could have made.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I put my heart and soul into everything I do, and my biggest goal throughout college is to keep that passion and find ways to showcase it in my work. I believe grit and work ethic are the two deciding factors for success and I will strive to carry these traits with me in order to help achieve my career goals.
Venegas came to Maricopa High School his sophomore year and has been heavily involved in the MHS Theatre Company, landing leads in “Les Miserables” and “Beauty & the Beast,” and also playing community theater. He will attend the University of Arizona.
Years in Maricopa: 3
Originally from: Salt Lake City, Utah
Career goal: Musical theatre
Accomplishment: Achieved highest score of “superior” for solo in Central Arizona Festival of Theatre
Reaction: I took “Bring Him Home,” so it was a song I was very familiar with. I just let all the practice take over and focused more on calming my nerves and making sure those didn’t take over in my song. … You just try to do the best you can do and wait for the results at the end of the day. It was definitely a really good experience, though, connecting with other schools and competing.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? An actor’s job is not to act but to audition, because you do so much more auditioning than you do performing. So I’ve worked a lot on auditioning with everything I have and being able to display the best me talent-wise that I can put forth. So I’ve been really working on that and hopefully that will help me reach that end goal of being able to perform hopefully for the rest of my life.
Warner is the salutatorian of Sequoia Pathway’s Class of 2017. She will attend Northern Arizona University on a Lumberjack Scholarship. Though her major is undecided, she would like her abilities channeled into community service.
Years in Maricopa: 4
Originally from: Racine, Wisconsin
Career goal: To be well-informed, comfortable and active in helping others in whatever I do.
Accomplishment: Inducted into National Honor Society
Reaction: Joyful and motivated. Being able to achieve such a high award made me realize that I am capable of achieving whatever I strive for and that I am capable of greatness.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals? I plan on attending college and going on to higher education in the future. I intend to get involved in my community and activism, to improve others’ well-being and my own. I also plan on joining committees and social groups that coordinate with my future career, goals and interests.
This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.