Blog post by Samantha Valverde, class of 2020

High School is like any other existing organization on Earth. It can either be identified as good or bad depending on the person you are taking to. If one makes the best out of high school and gets involved in extracurricular activities like sports, clubs, or programs and not just stay busy with classwork, high school can be one of the greatest experiences of one’s life. Although yes, high school can be stressful because we are in a day and age where as a high school student one is going through many changes and evolvement, but by being able to manage both the personal and educational life is one of the greatest skills to have as a young adult. The reason I say this is because let’s face it, for the rest of your life after college the world is in your hands. You become a part of the “real world” and suddenly the challenges you once cried about to your mom become the challenges you have to solve for yourself now. Suddenly, you are an adult and are responsible for being able to stay on top of your educational and personal life. Therefore, by mastering the ability to manage both one’s personal and educational life in high school is essential.

I, for one, have really taken advantage of the opportunities given to me in high school. Growing up with parents who immigrated from Mexico to the United States, I did not have the privilege to be able to visit other places away from California like different states, countries, or cities that were far from Inland Empire, which is where I was born and raised because there was always that fear in my parents heart of getting caught and having to move back to Mexico. Therefore second semester of Sophomore year after taking the PSAT, I received a letter in the mail notifying me that I was invited to join the National Youth Leadership Program for Medicine due to my grades and leadership skills. Medicine has always been a field that I have been interested in so, I looked more into it. I realized that there were more locations that I could be a part of this program for the summer. One of them was New York, the place that I have dreamed of visiting ever since I was a little girl.

Without any idea of what I was really getting into, my friend, Renee, and I went off to New York on July 9, 2018. From this on I had the time of my life. Stayed at the university in the dorms with girls from all over the country at St.John’s University. These people that you once never knew existed suddenly become one of the closest friends you have. They understand your passion for the field and know the struggle of constantly competing to be on top of everything. My trip was about a week and a half. For a week straight, we learned about clinical work, surgeries, and the basics of healthcare. It was amazing. I felt free, independent, and grown. This risk of traveling across the country with my friend is one of the biggest blessings I’ve had.

After reading about my experience in the National Youth Leadership Program, I am here to tell you to not be afraid to take risks. If you see an opportunity, go for it because you never know how much one opportunity can change your life.