San Luis student pursues academic dreams at Stanford
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — Javier Reyna could be described as a young man of varied talents and passions as he advanced from grade school to high school.
An avid reader who also had a knack for mathematics, he was a founding member of his school's model rocket club, all while playing violin for its mariachi band. A former teacher of Reyna's recalls classmates giving him the nickname “Mariachi Rocketeer.”
Whatever musical aspirations he may have, Reyna just may parlay his experiences with the rocket club into an aerospace career.
Reyna, today a senior at San Luis High School, has been accepted to one of the nation's most prestigious universities, Stanford, where he plans to study engineering beginning in September.
And he's received a scholarship that will cover $55,000 of his education costs for each of four years at the university at Palo Alto, Calif.
Reyna, 18, applied for the scholarship from QuestBridge, a nonprofit program that provides high-achieving students from low-income families with educational opportunities at leading U.S. universities.
“I found out about the program in August, and in September I took the exams,” he said. “I qualified and I had several universities that I could apply to. I picked Stanford and they accepted me.
“When I saw the letter that said I had been accepted, I had to read it over and over again. I couldn't believe it. Stanford only accepts 6 percent of those who apply,” said Reyna, who lately has been tutoring English at Arizona Western College to earn money to pay his part of the cost to attend Stanford.
Reyna, who has earned straight A's throughout his four years at San Luis High School, said he hasn't settled on a specific branch of engineering to study, although he says he's leaning toward aerospace engineering.
“I always liked math,” said Reyna, “It has always come easy for me.”
The son of an agricultural worker, Reyna attended San Luis Middle School, where he took part in Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth program, in which gifted students at the elementary and junior high levels attend college-level summer classes.
While at San Luis Middle School, he was a founding member of the school's model rocketry club.
“What Javier has achieved is a source of pride and inspiration. But he is very modest,” said Francisco Vasquez, the faculty advisor for the club.
“He was my student in seventh grade. He always did more than what was expected. He didn't make excuses, he always did his assignments.”
At the same time he was in the rocket club, Reyna was a musician in the Gadsden Elementary School District's mariachi group, Vasquez recalled.
“He used to show up at school with his violin and a rocket.” Other students “would make fun of him; they called him the Mariachi Rocketeer. But what he accomplished is not easy. He had to make a lot of sacrifices.”