By John Philip Wyllie
When Bonita Vista High School’s 2003 graduating class marches on to the Devore Stadium field next month to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” salutatorian Rebecca Jimenez will no doubt reflect both upon her recent accomplishments and her promising future.
Being a California distinguished school, Bonita Vista High School has produced more than its fair share of exemplary students, students that have gone on to excel in a variety of fields. A growing number of doctors, lawyers, engineers and administrators claim the South Bay high school as their alma mater. Needless to say, competition there is intense. To finish second out of a BVHS graduating class of 677 is quite an accomplishment. Jimenez was surprised when she learned that she would be this year’s salutatorian.
“I wasn’t disappointed to have finished second (to Tammy Wang).” Jimenez said. “I never expected to be the valedictorian. There are a lot of very, very, intelligent people at this school,” Jimenez explained. “Just because I finished second doesn’t mean I am any smarter than them.”
Jimenez never got caught up in the personal battles that sometimes take place when students compete for top honors.
“Academically, I didn’t feel the competitiveness. I wasn’t competing with the other students, I was competing to get into a top university and I did that.” The MIT-bound Jimenez expects to begin work on a degree in Bio-Engineering this fall on an academic scholarship.
“I like working on solutions for things and my interests lie along the lines of mathematics and science, so that is why I picked Bio-Engineering.”
Jimenez credits her parents, physicians David and Bernice Jimenez, for providing her guidance and motivation through the years.
“My parents are very proud of me and pleased that I got into MIT with a scholarship,” Jimenez said. “My Mom has worked very hard to keep me on target and has pushed me to do all the work that I’ve had to do. Without them pushing me at times when I really didn’t feel like doing the work, it would have been difficult (to accomplish what she has).” In addition to occasional prodding, her parents have given her something else: the opportunity to experience life and culture in Mexico.
“All most people (around here) know of Mexico is Tijuana. My Mom’s family comes from Tepic Nayarit. Visiting there has given me a good taste of what life is like in a small Mexican city. Last summer, I helped out at a middle school there where my grandmother is the principal. Since I am bilingual, I was able to teach the students there and help them out with their English.”
While Jimenez has learned a lot academically over the last four years, she has also enjoyed her involvement in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, especially swimming. One of the top swimmers on the team, Jimenez competes in the 100-meter freestyle and backstroke events.
“Swimming is grueling, but it keeps you in shape and gives you the opportunity to make some amazing friends. It’s also a lot of fun. I’m tired after I finish, but I am also more relaxed,” Jimenez said.
With a demanding schedule awaiting her at MIT as well as competition from some of the nation’s top students, Jimenez may want to pack her swimsuit when she leaves in the fall.