• April Student of the Month

    Karen Salazar



    To introduce myself, My name is Karen Salazar and I have been in the JROTC program at University High School for three years. Through these last three years I have been able to experience friendships, kindness, and happiness but even in difficult times I have experienced loss and hardship but nonetheless, I would not trade these last three years in the program for anything in this world. This program has helped me in a variety of ways these past years. A major one that I believe has helped build the person I am today is the people. I have never been a sociable person and wherever I went I have always felt like the odd one out but being here has offered me sort of a second home and comfort. Whereas in other places I feel invisible, the people here know my name and even spare me a smile or simple Hi which to me brightens up my days and provides me a sense of belonging. Not only the cadets but even the instructors of the program have shaped the person I have become. With teachers I have always felt a sort of distinction and a need to always have to be perfect or formal but they have seen me at times of worry and stress and have helped me through those times. They have allowed me to view a teacher as more than just an instructor but a person that is there to guide you and help you. I could write about other ways this program has impacted me but to me these are the major ones and the ones I feel I will take with me as I go onto college. To conclude I would really just like to give thanks to this program for giving me a second home and memories I will carry with me. 

    March Student of the Month

    March Student of the Month

    Selena Jaramillo-Salazar


    Academy of Culinary Arts

    What started as a curiosity, and later turned passion, I joined culinary for the experience and skills I could gain along the way, as well as gaining a few pounds. I love culinary and the time and effort it takes to see what goes into the food we create. I started helping my mom and dad in the kitchen when I was little, like helping them mix ingredients together and prep the table. This grew into me cooking and baking as a side hobby of mine but now I want to learn more about it and hopefully in the future make something of it.

    My future plans include going to college in San Antonio for the C.I.A (Culinary Institute of America). As well as learning and experiencing more of the food process and lifestyle in the food industry. Furthermore, I hope to be at ease and do my best in the future. I got into Culinary arts because it seemed like a fun class and four years later, I came out having wished I had more time experimenting and getting to learn more about cooking. Overall, this experience has been great and I hope more people are interested in learning culinary arts.


    Mark Reyes


    Academy of Arts, AV and Communication

    Being student of the month is something I never expected, especially for my academy. Not only am I honored, but glad to represent the Academy of Arts, Audio Visual Technology, and Communications for March.

    I always try my best to get good grades, even with college roaming over my head. This academy has been very beneficial to me, as I chose to continue with Graphic Design when I head off to college, and will pursue it as my future career, and try to make an impact in the industry. Not only has the support of my peers helped me excel, but also my teacher, Ms. Cunningham has always been there whenever I needed help. From help with classwork, to help with choosing a college, and helping me plan my future, she has always been supportive, and thoughtful towards our class, and I am very thankful for that. She has also given me the opportunity to help others in the school. We hand out birthday cards to teachers, we put up inspirational quotes in the restrooms, we put up flyers, help other teachers out, and we design logos for companies and teachers.

    An activity that has helped me prepare for the future was creating a resume and a website showcasing my work. It has helped give me a perspective on how to showcase my skills, and how to professionally present.

    COVID has been hard, especially during my junior year, when I was stuck online for the entire year. It was hard, especially because I was so used to asking teachers for help, but it became more difficult when I had to email them, and at times, I would not get a response right away, or at all, but I do not blame them, I know it was hard for them too. After junior year, I decided that I wanted to go to college, and my goal is to go to UT Austin and try and get a stable job there using my degree. I have always loved Waco, but Austin just seems like the place I want to live in. However, I understand that there are other opportunities in different places, so there might be a slight change of plans.

    I have not been much of a leader, because I feel like there are other people out there who are better at it than I am. I do try my best to help the people around me, because I want to spread positivity. The times where I had to show some leadership skills were times where I had to take a leadership role. This showed me that I can be a very good leader, but I just lack confidence, which is something I have been trying to work and improve on.

    Overall, I am glad to have been chosen as student of the month for this academy, as I have always been thankful for the opportunities this academy has presented me. I feel like it has set me up greatly for the future, and I cannot wait to see where I end up after college.

    February Student of the Month

    Caleb Jaimes


    Academy of Engineering

    Coming out of middle school, I didn't know what I wanted to do as far as a career path. Engineering in general was something that always intrigued me, but I never thought of the people that I was going to meet along the way.  I thought even less about the doors that it would open in life for me.  Through my engineering teachers, I have been able to see the various ways that engineering is used in the real world. Because of engineering, I’ve been able to work towards a certification in CAD and hope to continue my education in engineering.

    January Student of the Month


    Jose Gomez


    Academy of Architecture & Construction - GWAMA

    My name is Jose Gomez and one thing I like about GWAMA is that you get to learn many useful skills that you will actually use in real life. I also like that you get to do many hands-on activities and you get to build things. GWAMA has also made sure that we are ready for life after school by giving us resources like mock interviews and certifications. I also got experience with certain tools like the different saws and AutoCAD.  I learned how to measure certain things to cut wood, which can be useful in the real world. Even in your math and science classes, you get to build things very often with the resources that GWAMA has where you normally would get to do those things if you took those classes at your home campus. I am in architecture and have been in it for 3 years now and every year I do harder designs and houses. The reason why I chose architecture is because I always find the designs of buildings and houses interesting and sometimes I see a building that I would have wanted it designed differently and it just made me want to learn how to do it myself so I can design my own house the way I want it. In architecture I get to design houses and learn the different types of houses and different materials and why certain things are built the way they are. I also learned how to use AutoCAD and learned how to design things other than buildings and houses. When I go to college for architecture, I already have a head start.

    January Student of the Month


    Jessica Zavala


    Academy of Law and Criminal Justice

    It is incredible to think how one small decision can affect your whole future. During my middle school years, I had always envisioned being part of the law enforcement field. I wanted to make a difference, help others, and always wanted to fight for what was right. Now, I am in my fourth year in the Academy of Law and Criminal Justice at University High School.  

    During my 8th grade year we were able to tour our high school and see all the different programs that they had to offer. I was very excited to see that my high school did indeed have the Criminal Justice Academy. When I sat down with my counselor to arrange my schedule for my freshman year, I already knew what I wanted to do. It was a decision I will never regret making.  Throughout my four years in high school I have had amazing teachers in the Academy who have inspired and motivated me into pursuing a career in criminal justice. They have also provided me with many great opportunities that I will always remember. 

    Currently, I am the senior CTE ambassador for the Academy of Law and Criminal Justice, which has allowed me to be able to represent my Academy and engage others to join the Academy at our high school. During the summer I was selected for the amazing opportunity to take part in an Internship with the Waco Police Department. This was such a great experience. Not only did I enjoy the experience, but I was also able to learn so much assisting with projects, taking part in ride-alongs with police officers, watching dispatch in action first-hand, and I even saw a few crime scenes. The Internship allowed me to see the inside point of view and how things work within law enforcement. I was able to meet and work alongside Chief Victorian, who shared her thoughts and views about the need for more females in the workforce and the many opportunities that are available for them. The entire experience gave me a whole new perspective.

    My plan after high school is to continue with college and be able to work at the police department starting at dispatch and working my way up. I am really glad that I made the decision I did my 8th grade year and that I chose the Academy of Law and Criminal Justice for my pathway. I have always wanted to do something different. I hope to be able to continue with this path and I look forward to being the first in my family to be part of the law enforcement field.

    December Student of the Month


    Jerold Labra


    Ron E. Smith Academy of Business and Finance

    Hello my name is Jerold Labra , I am a senior at University High School. I've been in the business academy for 3 years. I'm in Accounting 1 and in Money Matters. I would like to thank my teacher Mr. Pierce and Ms. Santacruz for teaching and helping me learn about Taxes, and how to start a business in Principles of Business class. I even learned about homeowners insurance, car insurance, and workman's comp insurance. They are pretty good classes to take and it will help you prepare for the real world. It's very good to know this information because it helps you in real life. This is the end of my High School Years. I'm at the finish line, and I appreciate you all for choosing me as the Student Of The Month.

    November Student of the Month


    Fatima Barragan


    Academy of Education and Training

    In school, teachers are always asking you what you want to be when you grow up. Children say super heroes, astronauts, or a princess.  I always told them I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then after a couple years they would ask again, and I would say... artist.  Each year we were faced with the same question.   As I got older I started questioning what I really wanted to be. I tried lots of avenues like music, art, engineering, internships, and even sports. Finally, in my junior year of high school something caught my attention like no other, it was the Academy of Education at University High School.  I have always been a hands-on learner, so when I was able to participate in a field-based experience at Kendrick Elementary, this changed my mind.   I assisted a teacher in her class and realized how much I loved spending time working with and helping children learn and grow. 

    My story begins my freshman year of high school. I was enrolled in human growth and development.  I learned about child development and how children's brains work, I also learned how to be a leader and how to make fun activities for classrooms. After that class I thought it was interesting but I still wasn't sure if that's what I wanted to do. I went into photography and I loved that too but something inside was telling me to try another class that involved children.    Then during my junior year I had Mrs.Baier for Instructional Practices in Education & Training.

    Mrs.Baier pushed me to get involved in TAFE activities that involved the teaching profession. She explained to me how everything worked and all of the benefits. I competed in TAFE (Texas Association of Future Educators) Area competition with an interactive bulletin board.   I was so excited when I advanced to STATE!  I doubted my skills and intelligence and she was always there pushing me. I’m currently signed up for two competitions this year.  I also participated in our weekly rotations at Kendrick Elementary School and the kids loved me. They would always want me to read to them during story time or play on the playground when we went outside.  Another benefit of being in the Academy of Education is that it allowed me to participate in an internship program with Waco’s HR and Training. I learned a lot, and although it did not involve teaching I was able to use some of the skills I have learned through my academy classes.   

    All of these things made me decide to be a teacher. I hope I can make a difference in the lives of children and help them in any way possible.  I don't want to just be a teacher, I want to make a change.  I want all of the students to love being in school and want them to learn, not force them, because society says we will fail if we don't.   My plan after high school is to acquire my Educators Aide 1 certification and  become a teacher's aide for WISD. I will continue my education at night or online at MCC and graduate with my bachelors from Tarleton State University. I would like to teach in Waco.I.S.D. because I want to give back to my community for what they have done for me.  Mainly,  helping me find my career, keeping my eyes open to new ideas, and showing their love and support as they watched me grow.

    October Students of the Month


    Cristobal Vega 


    Academy of Automotive Technology

    Hello, my name is Cristobal Vega and Mr. Engelbrecht has nominated me for student of the month for October.

    Mr.Engelbrecht teaches automotive technology which is in the academy of automotive technology. I am in his 6th and 7th period, and he teaches it with passion! He is always there when you are having trouble working on any vehicle.  

    My dreams of the future are to be working for a national or worldwide company related to my degree field in diesel technology or automotive technology. In addition, I would like to do the collision repair program.

    The people in my life that will help me accomplish these goals are my family and supporting friends. I will need to be ambitious and have support from family members. One advantage that I have is that I grew up with my dad, and he always told me “Nothing in life is given.” He also has helped me learn how to work on cars, trucks, to know the different parts on the vehicles, and to diagnose different problems

    This academy fits into my plans because it gives me the experience I need for the real world, and how it is going to be in an actual shop somewhere. I am glad that UHS offers the automotive program, and so many other academies. UHS will have made me into the successful man I plan to be someday.



    Hailey Pierson


    Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy (GWAHCA)

    I would like to begin by saying thank you for the opportunity to attend GWAHCA. I am passionate about a health care career, and I probably would not have stayed the course if I did not have the support of the teachers, staff, and the other students on campus. We all help push each other to reach our goals and become better people.

    Once my experience at GWAHCA ends, I plan to attend Texas Tech and study to become a labor and delivery nurse. The hands-on approach at GWAHCA in the simulation lab or in clinical rotations is a beneficial and essential experience that everyone should have, before deciding to enter a lifetime career in health care. It gives students confidence in their knowledge and abilities, and it prepares them for their industry.

    I chose a health career because I tend to put others before myself, and I love to make people happy or just to put a smile on their face. GWAHCA helps me do those things by working with patients and other students in simulation. Outside of GWAHCA, I maintain two jobs that are both based on leadership, with a “one team” mindset. I believe GWAHCA culture fits this model, because students here are preparing to become leaders and work together in an increasingly challenging environment. The teachers, staff, and other students at GWAHCA are supportive and encouraging, two things that I know will make me successful in my career.