Selecting students for the Gilroy Dispatch’s annual senior spotlight honor is no enviable task. That’s why we make the principals do it. These students have navigated the daunting labyrinth of high school hurdles, and we are inspired by the drive, promise and optimistic outlook of these young men and women, who remind us that nothing is out of reach if you’re just willing to push yourself.
MT. MADONNA CONTINUATION HIGH SCHOOL
Jade Hurst Castaneda, 18
What are your plans after high school? I am going to attend the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to major in fine arts.
Favorite high school memory: I would definitely have to say entering Mr. Charvet’s art class at Mt. Madonna. It was a life changing experience for me because it was in that class where I developed my true passion and deep love for actually creating a painting myself. It was in that classroom where I had also met my now husband, Joey.
What was your biggest challenge in high school? I suffered with depression and anxiety, which had a huge affect on my attendance and social life. I had always feared that I wouldn’t walk that stage and graduate. It was because of that art class that I had found peace within.
Extracurriculars: I love to spend most of my time painting. I volunteer at Kids’ Discover Arts. I spend time with my husband who is in the U.S. Army, and my beautiful family.
What inspires you? My parents are my biggest inspiration. Two beautiful souls who have loved me and have been there for me unconditionally. Artists such as Mr. Rick Charvet, my sister Rosie, and my husband Joey.
What’s your dream career? To be an art therapist.
Favorite subject: Art. I love learning about past artists and the meaning behind paintings. There is always room for improvement, and that’s where studying art kicks in.
CHRISTOPHER HIGH SCHOOL
Scott Willard, 18
What are your plans after high school? I am going to Saint Mary’s College of California to major in business administration with an emphasis on international finance.
Favorite high school memory: My favorite high school memory is when I got to go to Takko Machi, Japan (Gilroy’s sister city) and live in the home of a Japanese family as a student ambassador along with five other great representatives of Gilroy.
What was your biggest challenge in high school? It was when I first had to learn how to balance playing sports with my grades. I first found it hard when I wouldn’t get home until 7 at night and had to do my homework for all my classes.
Extracurriculars: I was in choir for three years, baseball for four years (team made CCS this year), traveled to Gilroy’s sister city Takko Machi, Japan last summer as a student ambassador.
What inspires you? My visions of becoming very successful and doing what I really want to do is what makes me always try my best and strive for my goals.
What’s your dream career? My hopeful career is to be a financial investor in international corporations and then my dream is to be an ambassador to a foreign country for the United States government.
Favorite subject: AP statistics class because I will need it to get my degree in business later on.
GILROY HIGH SCHOOL
Kayla Guardino, 18
What are your plans after high school? I will be attending Washington State University this fall. I plan on majoring in education with a minor in sports medicine.
Favorite high school memory: My favorite high school memory was winning league my junior year in basketball. The team was so much fun and we all worked well together. I will always remember our locker room dances and getting pumped before the games. There was never a dull moment.
What was your biggest challenge in high school? My biggest challenge in high school would be starting sophomore year with half of our class of 2012 gone to Christopher High School. I lost many of my close friends to the new school and had to find my new niche.
Extracurriculars: I played volleyball and basketball. I also tried swimming and track for one year. I am currently the Associated Student Body secretary and treasurer. I was a Link Crew leader last year and this year. I was an assistant coach for the South Valley Junior High girls volleyball team. I also work part-time as both a lifeguard and swim instructor in Morgan Hill.
What inspires you? I am inspired by many things, from my beautiful family and friends to the things younger generations are doing to impact our world. I love seeing the youth of today making an impact and I hope that one day I can be as courageous and do the same.
What’s your dream career? My dream career would be to travel to other countries where I can help less-fortunate children. I would some day love to start up my own organization such as Invisible Children or Toms and be able to give back and make a difference in children’s lives.
Favorite subject: Science and math because throughout my years of education I have had amazing teachers in middle school and high school who have made learning fun and interesting.
DR. TJ OWENS EARLY COLLEGE ACADEMY (GECA)
Nishant Desai, 16
What are your plans after high school? I plan on going to UC Berkeley and majoring in computer science.
Favorite high school memory: Disneyland Grad Night (It was recent, but it definitely takes the cake)
What was your biggest challenge in high school? Staying on task and not procrastinating.
Extracurriculars: Academic decathlon – our team went to the state level competition in Sacramento. I’m on student government, a certified SCUBA diver, and I sometimes tutor math at a local elementary school.
What inspires you? Seeing people pursue their passion inspires me to do the same with mine.
What’s your dream career? Doing research at a national university (as a Ph.D.)
Favorite subject: Math