Nixy Salcido and Maria Carmella Ocaya are TIA alumni and freshmen college students at the University of Arizona. Nixy is majoring in nursing. Maria Carmella Ocaya is majoring in Biomedical Engineering. They both met in the 6th grade at TIA and become good friends.
Teo is a 2018 graduate of TIA. He plans on attending the UofA to get a business degree and minor in music. Teo feels that his friends and teachers at TIA have been like a family to him and that everyone looks out for each other, something that did not happen at his previous school.
TIA Business Program Creates Success StoriesAt TIA they have a high school business program where the students come together as a group and start thinking as a group. They do all the marketing together for their business. As a team, they go out and talk to people about the business that they are starting and what they are trying to accomplish. This program has helped Teo with his own business and taught him how to market it, how to deal with time management and the way to speak to people. He feels that he was not very good at communicating prior to this class and now feels confident about speaking to people. For Teo, going through this program has made a big a difference in his belief in himself too.
Valerie Enriquez - Principal at TIAValerie Enriquez says, “Teo has been at TIA for 7 years and it's been a real privilege and honor to see him grow academically as well as in his leadership ability. I remember when he first came to TIA, he would sit in class quietly with no motivation, no confidence, mostly with his head down. Now he is a confident student and one of the biggest leaders in our school. He is setting an example for the other students. He plays on the sports teams, helps other students find their motivation and passion in life. He helps in the community too.”
Landscape KingsTeo has created a business called Landscape Kings. He loves doing landscaping, something he feels is an art, a canvas that he is putting his name on as he works. He has younger siblings and wants to show them that they, too, can succeed by going to college and having a successful business. Teo is another TIA success story! Watch video.
This is a series of TIA Senior Stories about graduates of the school. Rubina and Monique are good friends and graduates of TIA who are attending Grand Canyon University now. Both girls started businesses while in TIA’s high school business program and they would both like to be teachers after they graduate college.
About RubinaRubina Herrera was enrolled at TIA from kindergarten through 12th grade. TIA was like a family to her as she’s been with many of the same classmates for years. She loved the small classrooms and how the teachers cared about the students. She felt that the teachers really wanted everyone to succeed and pushed them to make sure it happened. Rubina has also been interested in modeling since she was little. She attended, and graduated from, John Casablancas modeling school in Scottsdale, Arizona. For her project in the high school business program, she created a business called Today's Model, an agency for those people that don’t meet the actual modeling height but would love to express themselves in modeling anyway. Rubina is currently a sophomore at Grand Canyon University. After she graduates, she would like to teach at TIA. She will also continue running her modeling agency.
About MoniqueMonique Canez started attending TIA in the third grade. She met and became good friends with Rubina her first year at TIA. Now she also attends Grand Canyon University, majoring in Early Childhood Development. Even though the girls have different majors they find time to hang out with each other every day, whether it’s to study, go to the bowling alley, see a basketball game, or get something to eat. When she graduates she wants to work at a preschool or daycare. She is hoping that TIA will have a preschool by then as she would like to work there if a job is available. While Monique was studying psychology in high school, she learned about a hormone called oxytocin that is released in your body when you touch someone (or a pet) that you love. Oxytocin makes you feel happy. Her pets have helped her relieve stress over the years because the pets aren’t judgmental and are always happy to see her. So Monique created a business called Pet Touch Release for her project in the high school business program. She decided to help others by bringing pets to them so they could have the same happy feeling of unconditional love from an animal. The pet therapy helps others forget about what is stressing them in their daily lives. Rubina and Monique both feel that becoming teachers in the future and educating other students would be an honor. TIA has two more senior success stories! https://youtu.be/iXM3RRojBIQ
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Cristian Navaro went to TIA for 4 years of high school, graduating in 2017. He is currently attending Pima Community College and will transfer to the U of A for a business degree. He talks about owning a business now, thanks to TIA and YEA. Cristian says, “I’ve been into business ever since I was young. The thought of owning a business and being my own boss seems to be for me.” Dr. Jennifer Hererra remembers when Cristian came to TIA in 9th grade. She says he’s always been a student that stood out because of his intense interest in owning a business. He always went after the unique contribution that he could make through a business.
Project KickzCristian says, “I wanted to get into business now so that I can make a little extra money to help out with college, food and gas and stuff like that. The business I started is called Project Kickz, which is a sneaker shop that buys, sells and trades shoes and also customizes and restores shoes. I have here a pair of soccer cleats I restored. The benefit of restoring shoes is because they are special editions like a Jordan 3 which came out in 2017 and won’t be re-released again until maybe 2020. They are collectors items and more valuable to restore. So if it’s a shoe that someone wears a lot, they bring it to me and I can make it look like it’s new again. I can tape up parts of the shoes to protect the black suede part of the shoe while I use acetone to clean and stripe the paint on the other parts and then repaint it. Some shoes, like the Yeezy by Kanye West made by Adidas, only have so many pairs that are made. I was lucky enough to get a pair but I re-sold them for $1500! The Business Program at TIA is actually how I got my idea for Project Kickz.” Dr. Hererra remembers when Cristian began his business Project Kickz. He found out there was a Young Entrepreneur’s Academy offered by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and it was there that he wrote a business plan. That’s when his business really took off.
TIA High School Business Class & YEACristian says he was when he was in the TIA Business class during his junior year in high school, and came up with his idea for the project that became his business. In his senior year of high school (2017), he heard about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) offered by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Tucson, Arizona. There they really taught him how to run a business and the steps he needed to accomplish the goal of owning his own business. He had to create a full business plan, so he has a really thick binder with all the details of that plan. Another thing Cristian learned in YEA was to always be respectful of who you’re dealing with, even if the other person gets mad at you or even throws punches at you, to stay respectful because maybe you can help one another later on.
What is a Sneakerhead?Cristian feels he can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their shoes; each person’s choice of shoes gives them their own personality. People love to express themselves through their shoes. That’s what Sneakerheads mostly do. Sneakerheads are people that love to collect shoes and everything about shoes. They are people who will go wait in line for a new shoe to drop or people that buy multiple pairs of shoes so that they wear one and stock one. To stock one means you would store a pair away to keep it in perfect condition. When Cristian customizes a shoe for someone, he is letting them express who they are and giving them a uniqueness because that’s really them. People will say, “Oh that’s a dope shoe! Where did you get that?” and they say, “Project Kickz!”
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Recent TIA graduate, Nicky Cavazos, has been a student at TIA since first grade. The school was highly recommended by family members already attending TIA, so his family felt it was the best place to enroll him. When Nicky was younger, he was told by doctors that he would have a difficult time learning in school. He struggled with pronunciation, reading and writing, but that didn’t stop him. While attending TIA, Nicky worked with a speech specialist to overcome his issues. With a lot of hard work and encouragement from everyone around him, he overcame those obstacles and went on to graduate at the top of his class, speaking and reading very well in not only one language, but two! Life at TIA - Senior Stories Nicky’s favorite classes at TIA were math-related because he’d always had a knack for numbers. Part of that was due to his teachers who, in his opinion, were “amazing teachers” that made math interesting to him. Nicky doesn’t have just one special memory of TIA because “I feel as though every day at TIA carried so many memorable moments, that not one surpasses the other. But some of my favorite moments would include: the seniors taking a break from math class to watch Rupaul’s Drag Race, the competitive matches of volleyball between the high school classes, and the constant development of friendships and relationships over the years.” Nicky feels that TIA has prepared him for life after high school because, as a college prep school, there is the expectation that students will go on to universities. The leaders, principals and teachers want the students to excel in life. College can be an excellent next step toward a fulfilling life. How did TIA Best Prepare Nicky for the College Experience? TIA’s leaders and teachers talk about their own memories of college and are able to give good advice based on personal experience. Nicky feels this will help him be more prepared for what is to come. Two other things stood out for Nicky in TIA’s specific preparation for college: the school visits which helped him choose a college, and the College & Career Fair that TIA puts on every year. About Those College Trips Nicky went on a couple of the TIA-sponsored trips to look at different universities (Grand Canyon University, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona), one of which included a side trip to the Grand Canyon. Representatives of each college talked about campus life, class specifics, housing and more. He applied to the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. Nicky chose Northern Arizona University for the environment and beautiful scenery; it will be a brand new experience for him. He also has two close friends going to NAU this coming year, his sister and his friend Kami (whom he met at a leadership program this last school year). Nicky is passionate about many things, specifically writing, marketing, animation, drawing, fashion, the LGBT community, and the media. He plans to major in marketing with a possible minor in English, LGBT studies, graphic design, or creative writing/journalism. But he’ll see how everything works out first, as he may change his views and pursue something entirely different once he’s attending classes. He’s definitely open to anything. Nicky’s Words of Thanks and Encouragement In Nicky’s words, “I’m definitely thankful for my parents, specifically my mother. She has made it her number-one priority to give her children everything possible, and without her I don’t believe I would be where I am right now. She has given me every possible tool to succeed and I like to believe I’m on my way in continuing my success thanks to her. I’m also thankful for the school staff and their selfless efforts to help every student. They definitely put the students first, and on behalf of the entire school I say thank you. I encourage everyone to just focus on their studies and make that a priority. Your capabilities and drive to excel in school subjects will be a huge determining factor in receiving scholarships for college. I also say, enjoy your time in high school, and just ultimately be prepared for the future. For who knows what it holds?” Well said! Congratulations to Nicky and all the TIA senior class!
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Virginia Watahomigie, Student Success Coordinator at TIA, was keenly interested in the success of one particular student, her own daughter, Kynzie! Kynzie has been accepted to Cornell University, a prestigious Ivy League school located in Ithaca, New York.
Strong Animal Science ProgramKynzie Watahomigie didn’t apply to every Ivy League college. She wasn’t really interested in the prestige of the school as much as whether the university had a strong animal science program. She applied to Cornell simply because they have one of the top two animal science programs in the world. Because Ivy League schools do not inform their candidates of their admission until much later than most universities, Kynzie had already settled into the idea she would be attending the fine animal science program at the University of Arizona. But when she learned, at the end of April, that she had been accepted into Cornell, plans changed!
Passionate About HorsesTo say Kynzie loves animals is an understatement. From a very early age she knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. She even dressed up as a vet one year for Halloween! She is especially passionate about horses. As far as she can recall, Kynzie thinks her fascination and passion for horses started when she saw the movie Spirit as a young girl. Her family could not and did not own horses; yet even without a horse, Kynzie checked out every book she could find at the library about horses and horse care. She even has a book called The Horseless Rider.
Overcoming ObstaclesWhere there is passion, there is a drive to overcome obstacles. Although Kynzie could not own her own horse, she was able to attend summer horse camp for several weeks to learn how to ride and care for her beloved animals. Then when Kynzie turned 16, her parents learned they could lease a horse for her to participate in 4-H activities. She soon became not only active in 4-H, but also won awards and was eventually chosen to be president of the club. Obviously, for Kynzie to be accepted into Cornell she needed to exhibit more than just a love of horses. Kynzie is an incredible student, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. She also participated in basketball and is quite an artist. She had passion for all things equine, yet was just as enthused about, and excelled at, all things she undertook. She is the epitome of a well-rounded young lady. Kynzie is already attending Cornell this summer. She is taking a chemistry class and participates in other recommended activities for incoming freshman. She says she has met people from all over the world and has loved making new friends. The chemistry class is very challenging and keeps her studying many hours of the day, however. She will get to come home for a couple of weeks in August before the fall semester begins.
What Is It You Love?What is it that you love? Horses like Kynzie? Writing? Cars? Dance? Pursue your interests with passion and hard work. Don’t let obstacles be anything more than stepping stones to your future.
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William Shakespeare wrote, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But names actually do seem to matter! For example, did you know that if you share the name of a hurricane, according to one study, you are far more likely to donate to relief funds after it hits? Studies have also shown your name can influence your choice of profession, where you live, whom you marry, the grades you earn, or whether you’re hired for a particular job! So what if the dictionary definition of your name is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”? And what if synonyms for your name are words like aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, and ambition? Then you may just be TIA student Hope Ramsey, and you have definitely lived up to your name! Hope Ramsey was recently named the valedictorian for all 4 TIA campuses. Although there was another TIA student with the same incredible 3.94 GPA, Hope’s consistent participation in extracurricular activities while at TIA is what put her over the top. Hope credits her family both at home and at TIA for always supporting her, encouraging her and helping her shape and reach her goals. Hope joined the TIA family in 7th grade. After being bullied at her previous school and not getting the support she needed to succeed, Hope found everything she wanted at TIA. She appreciated all the one-on-one teacher interaction she received at TIA. She states the people at TIA were not only extraordinarily friendly, but they also gave her the opportunity to be herself and to achieve her true potential. This is especially true of her math teacher Mr. Chambers, who according to Hope, is one of the most influential people in her life. Mr. Chambers’ influence is evident in Hope’s plan to study mathematics at the University of Arizona in the fall. She dreams of one day working in the field of statistics, which is her passion. Hope smiled as she reminisced on some of her favorite TIA moments. She loved the first time she was asked to be a teacher’s assistant in math. She recalls it was a memorable day in that it really boosted her confidence and showed her how much her math skills had advanced. She also really enjoyed the math games they played in class. Students competed to solve math problems, which added a bit of excitement to the challenge. When asked what advice she would give students being bullied, Hope thoughtfully responded, “I know it’s hard right now but breathe through it! Stand up for yourself, because that is the last thing a bully wants. Say out loud, ‘I will not allow you to bully me.’ and then walk away. Then just go be the best you you can be! If you try to be someone else, you can never hope to do better than second best!” We here at TIA are so proud of Hope, and are thrilled to watch as she heads off to college. She represents so many TIA students who have used adversity in their lives as stepping stones to success rather than as excuses for failure. She truly does have hope for a bright future!
There are things about Tucson International Academy student Rubina Herrera that make her amazingly unique! There is not one other senior in the high school that can boast about some of the things Rubina has done. As the only child of TIA’s superintendent Dr. Jennifer Herrera and TIA’s co-founder and teacher, Mr. Wences Herrera, Rubina has had the opportunity to experience amazing adventures and accomplishments.
TIA’s True Trailblazer!One totally unique title Rubina will forever hold is as the first student to attend TIA all the way from kindergarten through 12th grade. When you know that her parents founded the school, this makes perfect sense. It’s fun for Rubina to reminisce about all the changes she has seen at Tucson International Academy over the past 14 years. She has watched as TIA grew from one school to four campuses. As the attendance for TIA grew, so did the opportunities for all the students.
Teacher’s Pet?Rubina also is unique in that not many kids can say one of their favorite teachers in school is their very own dad. Rubina’s dad has been her Spanish teacher her whole life and she says she loved being able to go to him for help with her homework!
We Have No Secrets!But having your mom as the superintendent and your dad as a teacher also means there’s not much in your life, if anything, of which they are unaware. However, since Rubina never had anything to hide, this was not a problem. In fact she and her parents are very close and have an enviable relationship.
The World as Her ClassroomThere are not many American kids who can say they have been to New York, Spain, China (twice!), England and France. Part of the amazing thing about being a student for the entire time TIA has been in existence is Rubina was able to go on every single trip the school sponsored. Her first international trip with TIA was as a 7 year old when they traveled to China for the first time. Just like her parents, Rubina loves to travel. Her favorite destination thus far was Spain. Having discovered the ethereal beauty, delectable food and the warm, friendly people of Spain, Rubina states she could actually see herself living there. And since she has learned both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese at TIA, her desire to live internationally is definitely attainable.
Getting Ready to Spread Her WingsBut Rubina’s first move away from home after completing high school will be to college. She has applied to and already been accepted to many universities. One of her options is to attend school in Oxford, Indiana where her mom grew up and where relatives still live. But she loved the campus at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff as well. Understandably Rubina is both excited to go away to school and a tad nervous to be far away from her family. But being the trail blazing, world traveler that she is, it’s hard to imagine her not embracing her adventuresome spirit!
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We recently conducted an interview with TIA alumni, Victor Figueroa. Victor graduated from Tucson International Academy-Midvale in May of 2014. Victor’s dream to attend college has become a reality as he prepares to begin his second year at the University of Arizona. How many years did you attend TIA? I attended Tucson International Academy since 7th grade, so 6 years in total. Since I was one of the students that was there for a long time, I experienced the expansion of TIA Midvale which allowed me to be involved in the growth and changes. One of the changes I saw was that we went from having only two teachers teaching all the subjects to multiple teachers teaching various subjects. Have other members of your family attended college? In my immediate family no one has been able to pursue a higher education before, so I am the first generation to attend college. To which colleges did you apply and where did you end up deciding to attend college? When I was in high school I had a very vague idea of college. In my senior year at TIA, thanks to the dual enrollment program they offered, I was able to take classes at Pima Community College. I knew that I wanted to attend and have the full college experience. However, I always thought that it was out of our family’s financial reach. I had heard terrible stories about students that go to college and obtain a degree, but then end up having so much loan debt that they cannot afford to live on their own. I did not want to end up drowning in debt, so I had to constantly evaluate my goals and my financial status to decide whether college was a viable choice for me. I decided to research schools that were close to home that offered generous scholarships. I found that our very own Northern Arizona University was on the list. Therefore, I decided to apply to NAU. The problem however is that I am a not a person that likes extremely cold weather or snow in the winter! So while I was happy that NAU accepted me with a very good scholarship, I was not sure that the Flagstaff weather was something I wanted to put up with for the next four years. However, I was relieved that the path to paying for college seemed brighter. I knew I wanted to stay in Arizona, so I also decided to apply to Arizona State University and University of Arizona. I received acceptance letters from both, although both colleges offered less aid than NAU. After weighing all the information, I chose to attend college at University of Arizona. I chose U of A primarily because their computer science program rated higher than NAU and because I had already started an internship there. Did you do anything different to prepare the summer prior to starting college? Since my major is math intensive, I wanted to be more prepared for college level precalculus. Therefore, I decided to rent a trigonometry/precalc book and studied and worked on the questions in the book. Since I was doing an internship with the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN) at the College of Optics, I asked my mentor whenever I had questions or concepts that I did not understand. By taking this initiative, once the semester started I was much more confident about my math skills. Can you remember your feeling the first few days of college? The first few days of college were challenging. I can still remember how out of place I felt coming from a small school into a student body of 35,000. At first I was so intimidated I felt like I may never fit in. However, I did not let that bring me down and kept striving. As each day passed I felt like I belonged there more and more. What have you found to be the biggest difference between high school and college? I would say that the biggest change between high school and college is the rigor of the work load and the freedom. In college there is no one setting up schedules for you or telling you where to go. Instead you have to decide on what’s best and manage your own time. The freedom that college allowed was a big change. While all that freedom is amazing, with bad judgment and or poor study and planning skills, it can become poison. It is ultimately up to the student if he or she wants to succeed. Tell us about where you are living. Are you living on campus? Since I chose a college that is close to home, I live off campus with my parents. However, from what I’ve learned, living on campus is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. What is your major? Minor? My major is Bachelors of Science in computer science. My minor is Spanish. What have you found to be the most challenging part of college? What I have found most challenging about college is learning how to manage my time. Sometimes it feels as if there is no end to the amount of work needed to be completed. It gets even more stressful when there are multiple tests in one day. Thankfully, time management is a learnable skill and I have learned how to manage my time much better now. What is the best thing about attending college so far? The connections that you make and the material that you learn. While science and math are very challenging subjects, I also have the general education classes to cushion the rigor. I like the fact that the options to learn whatever you want are limitless. Have you made a lot of new friends? Where did you meet most of them? College is about making connections; therefore, making friends is one exciting aspect that every student should look forward to. Most of my friends I have met through study groups and clubs. Clubs are a great way to make friends. How do you feel TIA best prepared you for college? I think that TIA really helped me prepare for college by offering the dual enrollment classes. Even though I only took 3 dual enrollment classes, it really helped me my first year and I had a pretty good idea of the rigor of college classes. I also think that the college and career fair helped me to ask questions and explore different career options and colleges. What final thoughts would you like to share with your friends back at TIA? I want to tell my fellow schoolmates back at TIA to work hard and don’t let anything make you quit. It is fine if you have no idea what you want to do or where you want to go, but don’t let your uncertainty hold you back from applying for internships, scholarships or colleges. I encourage every student to apply for as many scholarships as they can while they are still in high school no matter the award amount. They really do add up and help when you’re in college. I know I applied to over 50 scholarships while I was in high school and I only ended up getting 3, but those three scholarships put me through my first year of college without debt. I would also share with students that developing good work habits now will really help you to go a long way through college and beyond. Just keep being persistent! The journey to attend college may seem long and hard at times but before you realize it goals have been reached and it was all worth it! TIA makes dreams of college come true! Contact us today!