No secret but hard work to success Latino student is co-valedictorian at Washington High
Juan Botello Jr. isn’t the only one proud of his sister.
“There is also another All-Star at Washington High School,” he wrote to me in an e-mail, explaining that while student-athletes often hug the spotlight, other less visible students are working quietly but hard behind the scenes. “My sister is a big inspiration to me and my family, and I would like her to be a big inspiration to the Hispanic community.”
How could it be any other way? Jacqueline Botello, 18, is a senior at Washington who is graduating co-valedictorian of her class. She plans to attend Saint Mary’s College in the fall.
The daughter of Mexican immigrants who came looking for a better future and the youngest of four siblings, Jacqueline grew up speaking Spanish at home in her native town of South Bend. During these last four years, she said, she has been a soccer player for her high school team, a peer mentor and has been in a project of the Latino Student Union to raise funds for Hispanic cultural events such as Cinco de Mayo. Also, she said, she has volunteered more than 200 hours of her time at local nursing homes and health centers.
As busy as she is, she’s managed to keep a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
Jacqueline says she is most proud of being “well rounded,” that is, of having time to spend with her family and friends while being successful academically.
There is no secret to her success. Ask her how she did it, she’ll reply that she came home every day and did her homework.
“I never asked too much of them,” her mother, Maria Botello, said of her children. “They didn’t have to be told to do their homework.”
Jacqueline did say something that struck me as unusual inasmuch as it is the attitude of a winner — that she knew how to turn challenges into steppingstones. She said it’s when she wasn’t expected to do well that she transformed those negative expectations into motivations for pushing ahead.
Among those who inspired her were her medical magnet teachers, including Martha Lustik, medical magnet program coordinator.
“She is very focused,” Lustik said of Jacqueline. “And her level of compassion is phenomenal for someone her age.
“She deserves everything she gets. She is one of those very special people that crosses your life.”
Surprisingly enough, Jacqueline was not accepted for admission by the University of Notre Dame. But she said that won’t stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a medical doctor — more specifically, in OB/GYN.
At Saint Mary’s, Jacqueline said, she plans to study pre-med and biology.
Washington Principal George McCullough said Jacqueline might be the first Latino student to graduate valedictorian in at least the seven years he’s been at the school, and called her accomplishment “a historical landmark for the Latino community.”
That’s right — Juan is definitely not alone in being proud of his sister.
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