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Top SHS academic achievers named from 2012 graduating class

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Maria Quintero...valedictorian

Sunnyside High School has released the names of 20 students, deemed to be in the top 5 percent of the 2012 class from an academic standpoint.

The class valedictorian will be Maria Quintero, who has earned a 4.440 grade point average.

She is the daughter of Jose and Juana Quintero, and plans to earn a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Washington.

Quintero says the most influential person in her life is her father because he inspired her to try her hardest in whatever she did.

Her goal for the next 20 years is to become a research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She would also like to marry and have children.

Abbagail "Abby" Gomez has been named salutatorian for her graduating class. She will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 4.410.

The daughter of Hector and Pamella Gomez, she plans to attend the University of Washington this coming fall. She hasn't yet decided upon a career major, but is interested in otolaryngology, which would help her combine her love of science with her interest in singing.

"The most interesting person(s) in my life are my parents," said Gomez, stating Mr. and Mrs. Gomez taught her to be resilient, ambitious and to show kindness to others.

In the next 20 years, Gomez plans to be "...wherever God intends me to be, whether it's managing a private practice or managing a home."

Eugenio Rivera is next among the top 5 percent of his graduating class. He will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 4.260 and wants to attend the University of Southern California.

His parents are Emelia Ramos and Rafael Rivera.

Rivera says his mother is responsible for influencing him through her struggles and strong will to provide for her family.

"I found my inspiration is to continue to make her proud," said Rivera.

He aspires to earn a degree in electrical engineering, backpack around Europe and start his own business.

Earning a 4.190 GPA by the time graduation night rolls around is Cynthia Van Wingerden.

She is the daughter of John and Deanna Van Wingerden, and will study environmental engineering at Washington State University.

Van Wingerden says her father is the most influential person in her life because he pushed her to overcome any challenges in life.

In the next 20 years she hopes to have a job in the Lower Yakima Valley and to be married.

Emily Wolfe will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 4.130. Her plan for the coming fall is to attend the University of Washington to pursue a degree in business administration.

The daughter of Mark and Kathlyn Wolfe, she says her older sister Ashley has most inspired her.

"She is one of the only people in my life who's opinion about me and what I do really matters," Wolfe said of her sister.

Wolfe hopes to work for an international corporation and to travel with her family in the next 20 years.

Huimei Yan is planning to attend Western Washington University in the coming fall. She will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 4.089.

Yan is the daughter of Sunwen and Dongying Yan and says her grandparents, parents and sister, Ruby, have all been an inspiration to her.

She wishes to become a doctor and wants two children in the next 20 years.

Next on the list of students to graduate within the top 5 percent is Berenice Aballi. She is the daughter of Amelia and Sayci Aballi and will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 3.983.

Aballi plans to attend Washington State University this coming fall to study pre-dentistry. She hopes to transfer to the University of Washington to attend the dentistry school.

She says she has been influenced by her mother who motivated her to succeed in school.

In the next 20 years Aballi hopes to either own or work in a dental office as a dentist. She would like to own a nice home and provide financial support to her parents.

Adilene Palencia will graduate with a 3.977 GPA next month. She is the daughter of Daniel and Elvira Palencia, and has plans to attend Washington State University this coming fall.

Palencia says her mother has been the most influential person in her life, and she has dreams of becoming a pediatric oncologist in the next 20 years.

She also hopes to be married with children.

Manuel "Manny" Rivera is the son of Alicia and Manuel Rivera, and will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 3.960.

He plans to attend Central Washington University this coming fall to pursue a degree in art with a minor in theater.

Rivera wants to have a career in "...something I love doing, have a family, a nice house, a Mazda 6 and a dog named Frank Sinatra."

He said the most influential person in his life has been his mother because she motivated him to become the person he is today. His mother was the first person in her family to graduate high school, obtain a college education and earn a degree.

The next student listed among the top 5 percent in the SHS class of 2012 is Christeen Woods. She will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 3.942.

The daughter of Betty Woods, she plans to attend Heritage University to pursue a psychology degree or credentials to become a school counselor for students in need of support.

Woods' 20-year goal is to marry, have a peaceful life, a good job and perhaps a child "...oh, and to be happy."

She says her brothers, Jordan and Lance Warner, have most influenced her.

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Sustaita, the daughter of Rebecca and Nick Sustaita, will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 3.792.

She says her family has always encouraged her to be an original person. She said they inspired her to strive for the best, "...especially my mom and dad."

Sustaita said her friends Daniel Chavez, Christina Louie and Abby Gomez also inspired her because they believed in her when she didn't believe in herself.

She plans to study theater at Central Washington University and would like to become a make-up artist and costume designer.

Sustaita's goals for the next 20 years include "...working for the happiest place on earth doing what I love."

Diana Cervantes will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 3.785.

Due to illness, she was unable to share her future aspirations.

Graduating with a weighted grade point average of 3.746 is Kendra Hollmeyer. She is the daughter of Kirk Hollmeyer and Ardis Halma.

Hollmeyer wants to pursue a welding career and has hopes of getting into the Naval Shipyard Apprenticeship program. She says she will obtain welding certification from Perry Technical Institute if the apprenticeship program doesn't accept her.

In the next 20 years, Hollmeyer plans to be a certified welding inspector or a structural engineer.

She named SHS welding instructor Tom Dolan as the most influential person in her life because he helped her realize her love of welding. That inspired her career choice.

Amanda Villarreal will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 3.742. Her parents are Oralia and Ediberto Villarreal. Her mother, she says, is the person who has most influenced her.

Villarreal said her mother has pushed her and supported her when she needed it most. "Without her, I wouldn't be the person I am today," said the SHS senior.

Villarreal plans to attend Washington State University and has not yet determined her career goals.

She wishes to have a family of her own, as well as a big home.

Graduating with a weighted grade point average of 3.726 is Juan Macias, who did not provide information regarding his future and influences.

Earning a weighted grade point average of 3.723 upon graduation is Juliet Quiroz, the daughter of Alberto and Alberta Quiroz.

She wants to double major in pre-medicine and neuroscience at Washington State University.

Quiroz says the most influential people in her life have been her parents, who taught her there aren't any limits to what she can do. They also taught her motivation and determination will help her achieve her dreams.

She said she would like to earn a Ph.D. in the next 20 years. She would also like to be a successful anesthesiologist, specializing in neuroscience.

"I also hope to have a family," said Quiroz.

The daughter of Mario and Maria Garibay, Kimberling Garibay will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 3.718.

She plans to attend Columbia Basin Community College this coming fall.

"I see myself having a good job, still going to church and always keeping in touch with my parents," Garibay said of her 20-year goal.

She said God and her parents have most influenced her life because they have always been there for her.

Three more students have been named among the top 5 percent of the graduating class of 2012 at SHS.

Those students include George Villalobos, Gabriela Arellano and Lionor Galindo.

Villalobos will graduate with a 3.700 grade point average.

He is the son of Yolanda and Gilberto Villalobos, and has plans to attend Washington State University as a pre-medicine student.

Villalobos said his mother has taught him everything he knows and has been his number one fan.

"Behind every prince there is a queen and my mother is mine," he said.

Villalobos' 20-year goal is to be out of debt and settled down. He said he hopes to have a medical career and a beautiful family.

Arellano is the daughter of Maria Galicia and will graduate with a weighted grade point average of 3.695.

She plans to take classes at Yakima Valley Community College before transferring to Washington State University to major in nursing.

"My mom has been the most influential person in my life...growing up with such a strong role model, I established many of her enthusiasms," said Arellano.

She said she has developed a passion for learning and a desire to give back to others because of her mother's influence.

Arellano, in 20 years, hopes to have her Bachelor's degree in nursing, as well as a family. She wants to be successful, helping her community.

Graduating with a 3.641 GPA, Galindo has plans to study criminal justice at Washington State University.

She is the daughter of Antonia and Jose Galindo, and says her sister Brenda has most influenced her. Galindo said her sister helped her with decisions as menial as hair to those that are as important as doing well in school.

Galindo hopes to have all her student loans paid off in the next 20 years. She also dreams of having a husband and children.

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