Top 10 Spotlight: John Leija Recalls Roses to Mother

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by Ronnie Zamora/LFCISD

John Leija remembers when he was recognized as a Top 10 student as a sixth grader at Resaca Middle School in 2011.

“At Resaca, there’s a tradition where the Top 10 students give roses to their mothers at the ceremony. After that first one, I promised that I would give her more roses.”

John, the son of Juan and Josie Leija, kept his promise to his mother. He maintained his academic excellence since that sixth-grade year is now one of the Top 10 students in the Los Fresnos High School Class of 10.

“In middle school, it was more of me making them proud to be in the top 10 so I worked hard to make good grades. I became stricter with on myself and would get sad when I would get a B.

“Once I got to high school, I was thankful for my parents for pushing me get good grades. Back then I didn’t know what it was for. Now, I know that good grades help to get into good colleges and get scholarships.”

John was able to maintain high academic standards and still be involved with his hobby of Taekwondo, which he joined with his cousin when he was 8 years old in 2007.

“Taekwondo helped me manage my time and relieve some stress. It’s more self-defense, and I realized that I could do this for my lifetime and teach it as well.”

He won his first state tournament in 2007, and his first nationals at the Lion’s Stadium in Detroit, Mich. in 2008. He has captured eight state tournament championships and four national championships.

He also got to travel the country with his younger sister Janessa, who is now a  freshman at Los Fresnos United. In 2014, Janessa was part of a group of students at Resaca who invented an app to help a blind classmate that won national honors in the Verizon App Challenge.

Janessa and her “Hello Navi” classmates were invited to the White House Science Fair, and met President Obama. They also presented at a Google I/O Conference in San Francisco, Calif.

“I got to tag along with Janessa to Washington and San Francisco because my parents didn’t want to leave me home alone.”

In high school, John enjoyed his routine at home of studying with determination. At school, he was involved in UIL Academics and National Honor Society. He received certifications in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

John has been accepted into the Engineering program at Texas A&M University, where he plans to attend in the fall. “If I maintain good grades, I’m will be eligible for scholarships.”

He plans to major in Computer and Electrical engineering because “computers always intrigued me. I wound always find the need to be around a computer and mess around them to see how the electricity worked in them.”

His interest was also piqued by his grandfather, who was a carpenter. “I would go with him to some jobs and was interested in how all of the electricity would always work.
We’re in the time where computers are revolutionizing everything. I want to be involved with that, and hope to get a good job with one of these companies.”

John’s advice to middle school students to excel academically: “Time management is very important in high school. If you’re involved with any activity with your dual enrollment or Pre-AP. Don’t procrastinate.”

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