Mr. Rudy Valdez, one of the more than 300 Pueblo graduates in the Class of 2009, visited the advanced journalism class for a press conference explaining to them what life has been like following his high school graduation.
Valdez thought he had his whole life figured out, but after attending Pima for a short time after high school graduation, he realized how much more was really “out there”.
“I was scared at first [to move to L.A.] because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Valdez.
Prior to moving to Southern California, Valdez could be seen in several local commercials; he also had several promising modeling assignments. However, Arizona is not the place to act and model, Valdez said, because of the very few opportunities available.
Though he struggled a lot and hit many lows (including living in his car for nearly two months), his persistence allowed him to keep dreaming about “making it” in California.
“It’s humbling to admit how rough times became,” Valdez said. “But I wasn’t returning to Tucson so easily and quickly.”
His perseverance has paid off.
Valdez has been featured on shows such as Scandal, Switched at Birth, and Black Code and hopes to one day even move into production.
“It felt so great knowing I finally got here,” Valdez said. “Nothing has been easy, and I don’t expect things to stay easy for long. But, I love doing what I am doing—and everybody should love what they do for a living. It’s not just a living—it’s a life.”
On Wednesday, September 14, 2016, Pueblo class of 2017 seniors attended this year’s first college fair during second period. Because of the block schedule, the senior class was divided into two sections so that students would have enough time to visit with various colleges and programs.
Many colleges were available to Pueblo seniors, including Arizona Christian University, Central Arizona College, New Mexico State College, Pima Community College, Universal Technical Institute and Prescott College. Several military branches were also present.
Senior Mikaela Sesma-Nuñez said, “This college fair was very helpful to me, and as I get ready to graduate from high school in about nine months, it helps me transition to the next step.” She paused and added, “I want to study cosmetology at Pima [Community College], and I was able to get a lot of useful information from the PCC reps today.”
Another senior, Griselda Miranda, said, “This [college] fair made me realize that I need to start preparing for my future, and college is definitely a part of that future. What an eye-opening experience, but it’s reality. I’m seriously considering attending either N.A.U., the U of A or even New Mexico State [located in Las Cruces] because their admissions office doesn’t require Tucson residents to pay out of state tuition.”
Ms. Mandy McTavish, Pueblo’s new College and Career readiness coordinator, organized this event.
She said, “This college fair required a lot of organization—including a lot of phone calls! I was very pleased with that the seniors conducted themselves professionally. This won’t be the last college fair seniors will experience this school year.”
McTavish added that she would like all seniors to attend Tucson College Night at the Tucson Convention Center on Tuesday, October 25, 2016, an event that hosts more than a hundred different colleges and universities from around the state and entire nation.
Nearly 450 Pueblo students and faculty members packed the school’s auditorium on Friday, Feb. 13, to attend a presentation from Katie Spotz, a self-motivated young woman who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a variety of stellar physical achievements—raising money to provide clean drinking water to an estimated one billion people on this planet that don’t have access to it.
Nearly 5,000 people (mostly children) each day die from drinking bad water, she said. Most of the countries that she has helped raised money for to provide safe water include Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Kenya.
“I couldn’t just stand around and let this happen anymore, so I started to challenge myself to help as much as one person can,” the Ohio-born Spotz said.
On March 14, 2013, the then 22-year-old Spotz became the younger person (and only the second woman) to row across the Atlantic Ocean, unattended and without aid—approximately 3,000 miles, from Africa to South America! During the 70-day challenge, Spotz said she had very little diversion except for a day interacting with dolphins and the several occasions of avoiding enormous freight ships.
“I would listen to a lot of music and comedians on my headphones,” Spotz said. “Once I hit the midway point, halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, I really had to focus on rowing just one mile at a time. One mile…one mile…instead of the 1,500 that I still had to row to reach the South American coast.”
In the end, her “Row for Water” event raised more than $150,000 to provide safe drinking water. But, she didn’t stop there. In a valiant effort to raise even more awareness of providing safe drinking water to one billion people, Spotz has a resumé of unbelievable, impressive, physical feats, including swimming the entire length of the Allegheny River as well as cycling across the United States in seven days—even with a broken pelvis! Spotz eventually traveled to Kenya, and there she helped 10,000 students, first-hand, in that African nation gain access to safe drinking water.
“It was an amazing opportunity to actually be in the middle of this crisis,” Spotz said, “and also to be a part of the solution.” She added that she was appalled at how many people in Kenya are without clean drinking water—maybe only one person in 1,000 have access to healthy water each day.
Spotz spends most of her time traveling around the United States helping and inspiring schools to raise money for a project called “Schools for Water”.
Students in attendance were definitely inspired by Spotz’ achievements. Senior Narda Garcia said, “I was totally captivated by the presentation—especially because a woman defied all of the odds and stayed tenacious, never giving up. We students can definitely learn from her determination and perseverance.”
Wallace said that she is communicating with our administrators about ways to raise money in support of “Schools for Water”, including a “hat day” in which students will be allowed to wear hats for a day in exchange for one dollar. More activities will be announced throughout the semester, she added.
“Students are needed to help with raising money [for “Schools for Water”] because I want this fund-raising event to be student-based,” Wallace said. “This is a great opportunity for students to show leadership and responsibility.”
Junior Michael Montijo, who attended the presentation, said, “Spotz really brought the global water crisis into the spotlight. In today’s world, there is no excuse for unsanitary water or food.”
Armando Corral, a sophomore, said, “I was really motivated by the presentation. I want to help this situation by not wasting water in the future. We can all do a little something to make a huge difference.”
Senior Ariel Garrison was inspired by the presentation. “I think she is admirable for raising awareness to a topic that I was not fully aware of until now. Ms. Spotz is a awesome role model for all of us, and we should all find our own individual ways to help those who are not as fortunate.”
Another senior Narda Garcia, “I can’t believe that she continued the race with a broken pelvis! Talk about tenacity! I think that she truly inspired a lot of us to persevere under difficult situations. After the presentation, my friends and I were talking about what we can do to make the world a place where we give more than we take.”
On Saturday, before Dick Tomey spoke to about 300 high school football players and coaches at the Coaches for Charity Kickoff Classic Luncheon, before he spoke with about 400 coaches of all manner at Pima College, he visited Pueblo High School, which hasn’t had a winning season in more than 10 years.
Tomey wanted to see how Pueblo’s new head coach, Brandon Sanders, is doing in his first year as a prep head coach. From 1992-95, Sanders was one of the best safeties in college football, an absolute anchor of the “Desert Swarm” years.
Few coaches in Tucson have a more difficult assignment than Sanders does at Pueblo. Tomey met with the Pueblo coaches and the team. His message was simple: You’ll learn more from your struggles than anything else. Don’t get discouraged.
That’s Dick Tomey. Forget his career victory total (183), he was always about people first, football later.
One of those who attended Saturday’s luncheon at the Double Tree hotel was Tim Davis, who has coached at Alabama, Florida, USC, Wisconsin and for the Miami Dolphins. It was Tomey who gave Davis a career-changing opportunity in 1987, Tomey’s first Arizona season.
“I had been hauling meat in Wisconsin,” Davis said. “Dick called and gave me an opportunity to be a graduate assistant coach. It changed my life. It all goes back to him.”
Tomey, who has been out of coaching for three years, is retired and lives in Honolulu. He is 76, looks 56, and has become an in-demand public speaker.
“I always look forward to coming back to Tucson,” Tomey said. “I could talk about the fond memories of the people I met here forever.”
Stella Pope Duarte, author of Let Their Spirits Dance spoke at Pueblo High School on November 21st to the Senior Latino literature classes. Most writers charge a fee to talk about their novels but Pope Duarte does this because she enjoys speaking to young adults, but especially Pueblo High School students.
She spoke to the seniors about her novels but specifically Let Their Spirits Dance since the seniors are currently reading it. She discussed the themes, the conflicts and the characterization in the novel and the process she went through in writing it.
Stella Pope Duarte writes, “The students were FABULOUS! I absolutely loved presenting to them. They also pin-pointed some very important issues in the novel. It is indeed an honor to write stories from our own heritage, stories of heart, soul, blood, and spirit.”