Pueblo Students Blaze ‘Ivy League” Trail Once Again

By Esmeralda Almazan

Six Pueblo High School students were selected to participate in the Southern Arizona Ivy League Project trip, which has become somewhat of a tradition for the past eleven years.

Senior Juan Pablo Gomez, as well as juniors Esmeralda Almazan, Xristian Berry, and Marianna Martinez, left Tucson at the end of the third quarter, at the onset of Spring Break for an eight-day itinerary-packed adventure 3,000 miles from Tucson.

However, the weather was anything but “spring-like”, as students and chaperones endured very cold temperatures on the East Coast. PHS students traveled with four other students from nearby high schools as well as several chaperones, including three parents and Ms. Corina Ontiveros, founder/organizer of the Ivy League Project, also accompanied students.

Day One was perhaps the most exhausting for students: Tucson… to Denver… to Boston- at 5 a.m. on Friday!

Martinez said, “There was no room for us yet at the hotel, so we went on to visit nearby MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and Harvard University. The architecture back East is so beautiful and historical- completely different from Tucson.”

She added, “We also got to visit Quincy Market in downtown Boston, and that was an awesome cultural experience.”

Finally, at 7 p.m., the students got to their rooms!

Throughout the next six days, students were treated to more than a dozen universities and numerous historical landmarks and memories.

Before leaving Massachusetts, students visited Boston University (the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) Almazan said, “There was something magical about Boston University. I felt comfortable in the city, and I’m considering pursuing a Biomedical Engineering degree here.”

Then, students were off to Amherst University, Smith College (an all women’s institution), Tufts University, and 112-year-old Fenway Park-one of the country’s most beloved baseball stadiums (and host of the Boston Red Sox). Students then traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, to tour Brown University.

Berry said, “It doesn’t take long to get through those New England states. We’re [those in Tucson] are used to driving two hours to Phoenix. In the Northeast, you can get to and through three different states at that same time!”

Bill De La Rosa

Day Four’s itinerary was packed! From New Hampshire… to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut…There, students got to visit 2012 PHS graduate Bill De La Rosa, who is completing his degree in Law School.

Next on the students’ itinerary was Colombia University in New York City. While in “The Big Apple”, students visited the 9/11 Memorial and Times Square. Still in NYC during the morning and early afternoon hours of Day Five, students took a ferry to Ellis Island and Liberty Island and were awestruck seeing 150-foot Lady Liberty.

Then… onto New Jersey and Princeton University and then to Philadelphia, Penn., often called “the birthplace of America”, as it was the country’s first capitol and where our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

Day Six was perhaps the students’ busiest day—visiting Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania— before heading to the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, where the students visited Georgetown University and many American war monuments. Also on the agenda were the Washington Monument and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

On their last day, students visited Catholic University in DC and then the U.S. Capitol and Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva’s office. Students met John Green, the New York Times best-selling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, and Turtles All the Way Down (which has been turned into a movie and will be released this spring).

The White House was one of the students’ last stops before heading for the airport.

After a week “on the road”, students looked to the sky—as they were jet-propelled back to Tucson…And then to their beds. Dr. Toro has accompanied the Pueblo High School group every year. This year, she decided to take a step back and let Mr. Alvarez and other school faculty attend.

“I am not going to be at Pueblo forever, so it is important for other faculty members to experience its value and want to continue it after I leave,” Toro said. “Sustainability and legacy are vital keys.”

Berry said, “This trip was inspirational, for sure, and I am already considering applying to Yale University. I loved the school’s architecture and spirit. That campus is like its own little city.”

Martinez said, “I loved Colombia, Brown, and Yale, and I’d love to pursue my goal of becoming a speech pathologist at one of those colleges.”

Almazan added, “Don’t let anyone influence you about a school. Keep an open mind regarding your choices. If you feel comfortable there, then you’ll feel more at home.”

As May arrives, students with a 3.75+ GPA will be invited to apply to the Arizona Southwest Leadership Initiative and then interviewed in June.

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