Gilroy’s Class of 2020: Senior Spotlights

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Selecting students for the Gilroy Dispatch’s annual senior spotlight honor is no enviable task. That’s why we make the principals, school counselors and staff sort it out. These students have navigated the labyrinth of high school hurdles, and we are inspired by their optimistic outlook, refreshing attitudes and heartfelt honesty. We celebrate them, their families, their mentors and all the graduating seniors in the Class of 2020.

Gilroy High School: Audrey Hudson

What are your plans after high school?

I plan on attending American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

My favorite memory of high school was traveling to far-off places with the chamber choir.

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19?

I adapted to senior life by first acknowledging the situation and how I could make the most of my time at home. Granted it was difficult but nonetheless I managed to do it!

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

That’s tough because they all were so amazing! Although Mr. Hemeon really inspired me to learn and I found my love for history in his class.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself with even more determination to make people happy and spread positivity. That may not be a career but I know that I will always be able to improve kindness and joy.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Never stop dreaming because one very well known man told everyone that if they can dream it, they can do it and since then I have been able to achieve so many things.

Gilroy High School: Chase Saldate

What are your plans after high school?

Wrestle at Michigan State University.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

Winning a state title my senior year and also senior dinner dance my senior year.

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19?

I stayed positive and really focused on getting my online work done.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

Coach Newman is my favorite teacher. He is my favorite because he understands sports and treats us like adults. He doesn’t speak to us like we are little kids. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself as a NCAA champ in grad school.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Don’t change who you are to be “cool,” be yourself. Also attend dances, dress up for spirit days and try out for a sport.

Gilroy High School: Joshua Filice-Hollar

What are your plans after high school?

I am going to attend Gavilan College, and hope to earn my Real Estate license shortly after, while still transferring out to a four-year university. I would like to earn a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on real estate.

What is one of your fondest memories of high school?

My favorite memory in high school was senior night for basketball because even though we ended up losing in the last second, it was awesome seeing the school come out and support like that. 

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

I might be a little biased, but my favorite teacher was my sister, Ms. Filice. Not only was she an awesome teacher, but she came to all my basketball games home and away, and was constantly yelling at the refs so I didn’t have to.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

In five years, I would like to be either working at a Real Estate firm, or starting my own business. 

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Have fun and make as many memories as you can because time goes by much faster than you would expect.

Gilroy High School: Shannon Doyle

What are your plans after high school?

I will be attending Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. I want to study to become an elementary school teacher.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

One of my fondest memories would have to be my first day of senior year when all of the seniors were together at the senior tables hanging out and taking pictures. I miss seeing everyone. 

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19?

Adapting was hard, I’m not going to lie, I had a rough time with it, but I learned to deal with it. My class lost a lot of important senior moments and that’s hard, but we have been through so much together, this is just another hardship that we will get through! 

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

My favorite teacher would have to be Mr. Gonzalez. He always made me laugh and taught me what it means to earn my A through hard work and participation. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself finding a job as an elementary school teacher and helping future children to thrive in this crazy world.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Make sure that you try everything! From clubs to sports, it doesn’t hurt to possibly find something you love and, in the meantime, buff up your college applications! Those are important!

Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy: Kashika Bharol

What are your plans after high school?

I will be attending UC Berkeley as a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar, studying Molecular & Cell Biology and Public Health. I am excited to get involved in the school community, and engage in clinical research at UCSF, Cal’s sister campus. My career goal is to become a neurosurgeon.

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

Afternoons of getting boba tea at Tennant Station and going to the movies with my friends, a longtime tradition, will always be one of my favorite memories. 

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19?

I feel that I adapted quickly, as a lot of my work was previously online. While prioritizing my commitments and academics, I’ve been able to make the most out of this free time by being in touch with my friends virtually, hanging out with my siblings, and exploring new hobbies.

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

I love all the teachers and staff at GECA so much! My most influential teacher has been my ninth grade English teacher, Ms. Omainsky. She has supported me greatly in all of my endeavors and has guided me every step of the way.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself in medical school, working to reduce health disparities, and engaging in medical research.

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

Use the mellowness of freshman year to your benefit—explore both your academic and extracurricular interests. Find what you’re passionate about, and pursue it. If you stay focused in your academics and remain dedicated to your commitments, success will follow you. Good things always come to those who work hard.

Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy: Sadagopan Palaniappan

What are your plans after high school?

I will be majoring in Human Biology at UC Santa Cruz this upcoming fall. 

What is one of your fondest memories from high school?

One of my fondest memories of high school was the first day of freshman year. It was super exciting to finally be a high schooler. I was now starting this chapter with all these new faces. Little did I know that these strangers will soon become family. 

How did you adapt after your senior year was abruptly altered due to Covid-19?

After the ending of my senior year, I tried to keep in touch with my friends. But texting and Facetiming them wasn’t enough. The worst part of my senior year coming to an end is that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to everyone in person. 

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?

My favorite high school teacher would be Ms. Kamala Wood. She was super compassionate and kind. She was the type of teacher you could easily have any conversation with. That being said, all of the teachers at GECA were amazing.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself attending medical school, pursuing my ambition of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. I can also see myself becoming an investor on the side. 

If you could leave one piece of advice for an incoming freshman, what would it be?

One piece of advice I would give to not only freshmen, but to everyone would be to cherish the moments of the present. Enjoy the moment; take a look around you and thank the people who have helped you along the way. Live in the moment.

Christopher High School

Nearly 120 students comprise Christopher High School’s class of 2020, with graduates heading to colleges such as Cogswell Polytechnical College, University of Massachusetts Boston, Gavilan College, Mission College, San Jose State University, UC Santa Cruz and others, in addition to various branches of the military.

Paul Song is the valedictorian. He will be heading to Harvard University to major in applied mathematics.

Salutatorian Kianna Ynzunza will head to UC San Diego in the fall to major in psychology.