LFHS Top 10 Spotlight: Enrique “Kike” Valencia

Class Rank: Salutatorian

Mother: Gladys Galarza

Sibling: Nicholas Valencia (17).

Previously: Lopez-Riggins Elementary, Los Cuates Middle School

College: Yale University

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Inspiration for academic success: My mother (Gladys Galarza), my aunt (Gabi Casanova), and uncle (Daniel Casanova) inspired me the most. I was in eighth grade when my aunt Gabi told me she would give me $300 if I became the valedictorian for my eighth-grade class. I won the bet, and since then I just kept going. Ever since I can remember, my mother has worked at least two jobs and I admire her greatly for all her sacrifices. My aunt Gabi was always like a second mother and my uncle was the father I always wanted. Their support just motivated me to be the best person and student I could possibly be, and I owe it all to them.

Study habits: I have found that finding a quiet, distraction-free place is the best way to study. Going to Starbucks to type out research papers and making my study times as efficient as possible has worked for me. When it comes to challenging STEM courses, completing the P-sets ahead of time and watching YouTube videos over the material helps clarify some of the confusion and helps reassure my knowledge.

Plans after first degree: After completing my undergraduate studies, I plan to go straight into the field to get some hands-on experience. If I find that I love working with something in particular, then I might go back to college to get my masters and/or doctorate in a specific field. Engineers usually stop after their undergraduate, but I really do like physics and am also interested in business so I may also go back for my MBA or something similar.

Career plans: I hope to work for Tesla and work on the design and manufacturing on electric cars. I believe that renewable energy is the future and I want to be a part of the exciting innovation that is going on. I also hope to open up businesses and also maybe invest in real-estate in the future. I love to travel and am excited to network as an engineer internationally.

Advice to younger students for academic success: I started to really focus on my academics in eighth-grade. In elementary I was A-B honor-roll and was never admitted into the “GT” program. My advice to students is to just believe in yourself. There are people who will doubt you and dissuade you from taking challenging courses. When I chose to challenge the AP Physics 1 test, some people were supportive, and others condescendingly tried to discourage me. The key thing is to have an over-achieving goal that you want to accomplish, take in the positive, and ignore the negativity. Challenge yourself with classes you enjoy, take dual enrollment classes, and take AP classes, but it’s also OK to take an easy class and drop a class if you need to- don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Other people’s mentality do not apply to you, there’s isn’t any better than yours. Be who you are, not what you’re told to be.

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