SCHOLAR ATHLETE: Pecos’ Valenzuela all about giving back

Kenzie Valenzuela has always been about stepping up and helping others.

That showed through her hard work in the classroom, as she’s ranked fourth in her graduating class at Pecos High School.

As she gets set to graduate, Valenzuela said that one of the big keys to her success was staying organized by keeping a lot of different schedules.

“I just tried to get a lot of things done during the day since I have some free periods from my college classes,” she said. “I just knock out the assignments during that time and use the rest for sports and activities.”

To say Valenzuela’s schedule was full would be an understatement.

Depending on the season, Valenzuela was spending time competing in volleyball, basketball and golf while taking college classes that allowed her to complete her associate’s degree from Odessa College.

Outside the classroom, she was involved in UIL Academic Competitions while working at the Reeves County Recreation Center and as the Treasurer of the Youth Advisory Commission in Pecos. That’s not including her volunteer work with Meals on Wheels and as a Catechism Assistant at Santa Rosa Catholic Church.

Finding a way to keep tabs on everything presented a challenge, but assistant volleyball coach Cassandra Foster said that Valenzuela’s ability to keep everything in order stood out.

“It’s incredible how she can balance everything,” Foster said. “She balances everything so well and is very good at managing her time. Being able to do that at such a young age is going to really help here when she gets older.”

“Her grades were always impeccable. Her parents push her but she has a lot of drive in herself.”

Foster added that Valenzuela became a key player to go to as a setter on the volleyball court and played a key role on the varsity team during the last three years. While she was dependable on the court, her work off the court was even more important as she helped her teammates with school work on the bus to and from games.

“Some of our underclassmen would sit with her and she would help them if they didn’t understand something or if they were an absent the day a teacher went over something,” she said. “She was very helpful and a great mentor to our younger girls.”

Valenzuela said that playing volleyball was her favorite sport to play among the three she competed in, but she is ready to help others in a different field.

She plans to attend Texas Tech to study dermatology and eventually open up her own practice in the future. Valenzuela’s initial plan was to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a pharmacist, but her medical classes as part of her associate’s degree steered her in a different direction.

“When we began those classes at Odessa College, we had a section about the skin and that really interested me,” she said. “Once I saw how much there was to know, I couldn’t get away from it.”

As for her college choice, Valenzuela called it a no-brainer to head to Lubbock to become a Red Raider. Her older brother recently graduated from Texas Tech and she added that she will be attending school with a couple of her cousins as well.

“Ever since I was younger, we’ve always been a Tech family,” she said. “It was the only school I applied to.”

As her athletic career at Pecos draws to a close, Valenzuela said that she was thankful just to have the chance to compete. It was different this year because of the COVID-19 restrictions in place but Valenzuela said that it was necessary just to get through this year.

“I was just trying to keep my family and teammates safe and trying to keep myself healthy,” she said.




>> Academic Rank: 4 out of 163

>> Sports: Volleyball; Basketball; Golf

>> Academic bio:  National Honor Society; National Honor Society of High School Scholars; Mu Alpha Theta; A/B Honor Roll; Nominee for Pecos Chamber of Commerce Student of the Year; UIL Calculator Applications

>> Athletic bio: Varsity Volleyball- District All-Academic, Team Captain, Setter and Front Row player; Varsity Basketball- Post; Varsity Golf- Most Valuable Player Award

>> Activities: Treasurer of Youth Advisory Commission of the Town of Pecos; Catechism Assistant of Santa Rosa Catholic Church; Meals on Wheels; Nutrition Bar Attendant at Reeves County Recreation Center

>> College and major: Texas Tech University; Medical Degree in Dermatology

>> Goals for the future: Open my own practice of Dermatology in West Texas

>> Favorite subject: Mathematics/Biology

>> Favorite book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

>> Favorite musician: Ozuna

>> Role model: My coaches are my role models because they make us strive for greatness