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SALS & VALS: The future’s so bright they need sunglasses
by BEN TINSLEY
Jun 03, 2014 | 246 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sarah White
Sarah White
slideshow
Joaquin Cavazos
Joaquin Cavazos
slideshow
Mikaila Rushing
Mikaila Rushing
slideshow
Sheaniece White
Sheaniece White
slideshow
Shelby James
Shelby James
slideshow
Avery Pawelek
Avery Pawelek
slideshow
This year’s batch of Live Oak County and McMullen County high school valedictorians and salutatorians—“vals” and “sals” as some might say—have high hopes and grand plans for the future.

As they prepared to end this phase of their respective academic careers on very high notes, the group of six area students recounted experiences and emphasized wishes for the future during recent interviews with The Progress.

(Some excerpts of those interviews and photos of them and their classmates are in the graduation special section in this edition of The Progress. Those recorded interviews will be included in an online video presentation on www.mysoutex.com.)

Now is certainly a very interesting time for 2014 Tilden High School (McMullen ISD) valedictorian Sarah White, 18, who said she hopes to one day do work for Disney.

She has been personally invested in her academic success since as far back as she can remember. In the fall, she starts classes at Texas A&M majoring in computer science and—hopefully—minoring in visualization.

“What I want to do right now—subject to change—is I want to go to work for Disney,” she said. “I want to make some of their interactive programs and work on some of the mechanics behind them.”

Meanwhile, 2014 Tilden High School salutatorian Joaquin Cavazos starts at Texas A&M in the fall. He plans to major in engineering.

“I would like to work for a major manufacturer like John Deere,” he said. “I was raised on a farm and have always been interested in agricultural machinery in particular. It would be neat to play a role in their design and manufacture.”

Three Rivers (ISD) High School

By the time this story was written, the race between Three Rivers High School top students Mikaila Rushing and Sheaniece White to determine who would be valedictorian and who would be salutatorian of Three Rivers High School had already been decided—with Sheaniece as val and Mikaila as sal.

But at the time of the initial interviews with them at Three Rivers High School weeks earlier, school officials were still in the process of reviewing and reevaluating scores and grades on both students because the numbers were too close to immediately call.

Mikaila, 18, from Three Rivers, said the waiting was starting to become stressful for her. But she added it has been a lot of fun having Sheaniece as a competitive friend.

“I have literally known her (Sheaniece) since fifth grade,” Mikaila said. “This has been in the background of our friendship the entire time.”

In the fall, Mikaila plans to major in journalism at the University of Texas in Austin.

Sheaniece, 18, who starts majoring in accounting at UTA in the Fall, agreed that she and Mikaila have always been good friends—although very, very competitive ones.

“I’ve always been nervous she’s going to pass me,” Sheaniece said with a smile. “Ever since we were little we have been competing.”

Sheaniece said she hopes to eventually become an accountant or at the very least have a CPA-type of career.

George West (ISD) High School

Valedictorian Shelby James, 18, will start in the fall majoring in business honors at Texas A&M. She hopes to either become a lawyer or get a graduate degree in actuary sciences.

“I am deciding between those two options but that may change after new classes and topics in college,” she said.

Her central thought to others as a val?

“I want everyone to know not to be afraid to take a risk,” she said.

George West High School Salutatorian Avery Pawelek, 18, will be attending UTA, majoring in physics and mathematics.

“I really liked it there at UTA,” he said. “Their physics labs are top notch and I really felt at home. I am double majoring in physics and math.”

Avery said he had some great times in high school—a favorite moment of which included lighting the homecoming bonfire in a fireman’s outfit in his capacity as student body president.

He hopes to attend graduate school and get his doctorate in physics—possibly doing engineering work in he future or research and possibly a stint teaching at university.

“I’m interested in science,” he said. “I enjoy challenging myself intellectually.”

Ben Tinsley is a reporter for The Progress newspaper in Three Rivers. He can be contacted by email at theprogress@mysoutex.com or by phone at 361-786-3022. Tinsley can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BenTinsley, Google at http://plus.google.com/+BenTinsley or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ben.tinsley.12.
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