• September 28, 2020

OHS top 2 pursue big dreams - Odessa American: News

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  • Top of the Class

    Odessa High School salutatorian Angelica Carrillo and valedictorian Jason Zubia pose for a photo in front of the Broncho statue at Ratliff Stadium on May 1, 2020.

Posted: Sunday, May 17, 2020 4:00 am

Odessa High School’s top two graduates will pursue their dreams next fall of becoming an electrical engineer and becoming, ultimately, a neurosurgeon.

Jason Zubia is the valedictorian and Angelica Carrillo is the salutatorian.

Carrillo plans to study neuroscience at Harvard University, then go to medical school and become a neuparosurgeon who works on the puzzle of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Zubia plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and study electrical engineering specializing in nanotechnology.

“I think it’s an honor to be in the top 10 because we have a really large class like 600, 700 kids and it’s really an honor because we’ve worked for it …,” Carrillo said.

Zubia said he has spent countless long or sleepless nights working toward this goal.

“We’re just really proud and honored to be in this position that we’re at. I think it’s important to always look back and remember where we began our journey because we all started in the same place, essentially, and some people even started off disadvantaged. …,” Zubia said.

Carrillo said she figured out in seventh grade that there was such a thing as the top 10 students. She said she was lower in the top 10 in middle school.

“I was like wow, I want to be up there and this is something I want to work for so it’s something I’ve worked towards throughout high school,” she said.

Zubia said his goal wasn’t necessarily to be in that rarefied air.

“… Every day I would go to school and I realized my goal was not necessarily to be at the top, it was just to acquire the knowledge that I would need for the future to further my career. … My mission’s always been about helping other people, inspiring other people, bringing my family up from where they began because my parents are originally from Mexico. My father couldn’t finish even grade school and I just wanted to make them proud and be an inspiration and a story that could be carried on for generations and so it just kind of naturally came from my hard work that I wanted to just make everybody proud,” he added.

Carrillo’s advice for younger students who want to be in the top 10 is not to be discouraged when things don’t go the way they think they should.

“Because you’re not always going to be able to get 100 on a test. You’re going to have to work for it and it’s OK when you don’t get what you want, but don’t be discouraged and keep working toward it. Your hard work will pay off in the end,” she added.

Zubia said it’s their mentality that helps them succeed. He said people always wonder about that but what they should be asking is why do you want to get here?

“And it’s mostly an evaluation of what your fundamental beliefs are. If you’re out constantly working every day and you’re putting in that effort, you’ll see the results. No matter what those results may be, you should still be proud of it because, in the end, if you look back like five years from now, or for us like four years from now, we made huge improvements. We’ve crossed land and sea basically and now we’re different people,” Zubia said.

“We’ve matured. Our vocabulary has definitely gotten a lot better since then and it’s just been an incredible change over time. That’s what you need to work toward; just your mentality in that positive state of mind. Like Angelica was saying, if it doesn’t come out your way, true champions never lose. They either win, or they learn. That’s basically how it goes,” he added.

Carrillo said she is appreciative that Ector County ISD is still doing something to recognize seniors.

“… I know we’re all really bummed when we figured out that there’s no more school for the rest of the year. We’re missing out on so many lasts. It was really nice for them to at least acknowledge us in this way, even though it’s not the traditional way that we had always imagined,” she said.

It’s taken a toll, not just of missing teachers and friends but the interactions they are used to, Zubia said.

He noted that he and Carrillo are in the International Baccalaureate program at Odessa High School and they have a close circle of friends. They are also both in band. Carrillo plays the trumpet and Zubia plays the alto saxophone.

He added that he appreciates everything ECISD is doing for the students.

“… In reality, they’re doing their best under such unprecedented circumstances. It’s not something ideal. It’s not something that anybody wants to go through, but the reality is it’s the world we live in and we’re living in a changing world,” Zubia said. “Anything can happen from today to tomorrow. It’s never certain.”

Carrillo said she’s still planning to attend Harvard, even though the Boston area has been hard hit by the pandemic.

“I was a little hesitant with everything that’s going on because it’s really bad up in the Boston area, but Harvard’s my dream and I’m not going to let something affect my dream when I know even if I have to start fall online, maybe, I’m still going to be working toward becoming a neurosurgeon and changing the world and that’s really what I want,” she said.

Zubia said he feels the same way, although Austin isn’t as populated as Boston.

“But thinking about it, I was willing, because everyone’s income has been affected or at least the majority, and so I was like well I’m willing to go off to work somewhere. I don’t hesitate to just OK if I really want to achieve my dreams, I have to put in the hard work. That’s just the simple reality of it and to see where it takes me. I just really want to see what I can do with the circumstances I’m given; just be resourceful as I can,” he said.

Translated by Carrillo’s mother, Anna Carrillo, Jason's mother, Luz Zubia, said she’s very proud of Jason because he’s sacrificed many nights and even his lunch hour at school so he could get through his schooling.

“… He has always been someone that has wanted to learn; someone that’s been interested in learning multiple things in a lot of different areas,” Luz Zubia said through Anna Carrillo. “He’s just a very, very hard worker.”

Jason said he got used to having to work from the beginning to the end of his days, come home and do homework and start all over again.

“School became my whole life at that point. There was no in between because I had to do things for band, Spanish honor society attend NHS (National Honor Society) meetings. It was just very busy. I’ve always wanted to branch out and try to learn as many things as … (possible). And my mom and my dad are the same way. They’ve learned things over the years just from experience,” Zubia said.

He said his father has told him that if he wants to get ahead, learn the job.

“… You want to use that knowledge and incorporate that knowledge and you’ll go a long way because a lot of people don’t do that. That’s the sad reality. They go and they’re just looking for the paycheck and that’s why you’ll probably stick out if you just want to do the work naturally …,” Zubia said.

Anna Carrillo said she also is extremely proud of Angelica.

“She has always been a very hard worker, a very smart young lady. But above that, I’m more proud of her because she has been just a blessing … to her friends. She’s had leadership positions at school, (in) her community. In addition to school, she worked the last four summers volunteering at Medical Center Hospital. That’s a big part of where her love for the medical field came in wanting to help people and save lives and make a difference,” Anna Carrillo said.

“She’s a young lady that gives 110 percent to everything that she does. I’m extremely proud of her. She’ll be the first person in our family to go to college outside of Odessa and to get a degree in our family. I have a degree and some of my family members do, but they’re mostly local community colleges and UTPB, which are great schools but she will be the first one to be very bold and courageous and leave Odessa and try something new and different. I’m just very humbled and grateful for the young lady, beautiful young lady, that she is and I know that she’ll do well wherever she goes,” Anna Carrillo added.

Carrillo has an older sister, Brianna Diaz, who has a degree in radiology.

Zubia has an older brother who works locally and an older sister who is working on a bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston-Victoria. She is studying to be a paralegal, he said.