LAS CRUCES – Three graduating seniors from Hatch Valley High have big plans for their futures, from acting to the NFL to moving out of state.
Hatch Valley High is the sole high school in the Hatch Valley Public Schools district. This year, 90 students are expected to graduate.
With graduation set for Friday, three seniors shared their stories and post-high school plans.
Making his family proud
Jeremiah Terrazas, 17, has played sports for as long as he can remember.
With an active family and several family members who went on to play sports in college, he said it was an expectation for him to follow suit.
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“(My older sister) went to college to play softball in Texas,” Jeremiah said. “I have two uncles that played at Western New Mexico University – they play football there. Then an aunt that played softball in Western New Mexico University, too.
“I’ve always been told by my uncles and my aunt to just push it and make it to college to play sports.”
Jeremiah will be playing football at the New Mexico Military Institute in the fall. He said he’s excited to continue playing after high school.
At HVHS, Jeremiah kept himself busy with sports, participating in football, baseball, basketball and track and field.
Jeremiah said his parents are excited to see him go to college because neither of them were able to do so.
“They’re proud that both their kids are going to college,” Jeremiah said, meaning himself and his older sister. “They just want us to do good, always pushed us to go to college. Well, we’re doing it.”
Jeremiah doesn’t have plans to go into the military. After the two-year program at NMMI, he hopes to transfer to a four-year university to complete his degree and continue his football career.
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He said his dream would be to play in the NFL, but he wants to do anything that will let him play football for a living.
Wherever he goes, Jeremiah said he will remember his time playing football at HVHS.
“My best memories are when we’re playing games, and we go to the huddle and talk and see what we could do better,” Jeremiah said. “The family aspect and the brotherhood of football, that’s what my favorite memory is.”
Making a dream reality
Miguel Cuellar, 18, can’t wait to show the world his talents as an aspiring actor.
He said he’s wanted to act since he was in middle school, but only recently realized his dreams could become a reality after being accepted in the University of New Mexico’s College of Fine Arts. Despite his little experience, he can’t wait to attend.
“There’s not really like a drama theater class here (in Hatch), so I wasn’t given that opportunity, which, in my opinion, I feel like it says a lot for me to get an opportunity to go study at a performing arts school without having any kind of background, “Miguel said. “It says that I have potential.”
He hopes to transfer to a school in Los Angeles after starting out at UNM. Miguel had originally wanted to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in California, but growing up in a single-parent household where he had to help his mom support himself and his two sisters, the tuition was too high even with scholarships.
Miguel has been the only male figure in his family since he was 5 years old. As a teen, he has worked various jobs – in the agricultural fields surrounding Hatch and at the local grocery store – to try to keep his family afloat.
“I was supposed to be part-time, but they have me work full-time hours, and that really affected me because I was falling behind on classes and my grades were starting to slip,” Miguel said.
While working and taking classes online, his mother was hospitalized for COVID-19, adding more stress onto Miguel. She is now healthy and proud of her son going to college.
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The pandemic was also what made Miguel realize he wanted to pursue acting seriously. He said he figured out he wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer or any of the other career paths he had considered, but he had a real shot at living his dream.
“I want to prove to others that no matter where you come from, or what opportunities you receive, you can still make it to the top,” Miguel said. “Not only just in that (acting) kind of field, you can do it anywhere. One thing I do want to prove is, like coming from a small town, a small community where it’s not really known that you can make a name for yourself, you can put a meaning behind the name. My inspiration is just proving those, I guess, to those young kids – that no matter where you come from, you can make your dream a reality. “
Making big moves
Joaquin Olvera, 18, is going for his longest distance yet, traveling to Kansas to attend Dodge City Community College on a track scholarship.
Joaquin was involved with multiple sports at HVHS, serving as captain for track, soccer and basketball. But track has been his biggest passion. As a freshman, he attended the state meet for the first time. He compared his freshman and senior year experiences.
“My freshman year, it was a fun experience, just like being around older people,” Joaquin said. “But this year, where I had to lead a team and stuff like that, I just had to be focused for everything, anything I had to do. I had to get it done. I’m a person that needs to get everything done. as quick as possible. “
Joaquin was chosen by coaches to captain each team. He said he wanted to be a good role model to younger students and hopes to emulate some of the leaders he looked up to as an underclassman.
Joaquin’s track and basketball coach, Bailey Robertson, was the one who recommended him for the Kansas scholarship. He said she has always been supportive of him.
Before he got the scholarship at DCCC, Joaquin was uncertain where his future was headed.
“Sports have been part of my life, like, my entire life. I love sports with a passion,” Joaquin said. “(I thought) after my senior year, I’m not gonna be able to do that if I don’t have a scholarship, or I’m gonna play somewhere. It was a bunch of mixed emotions for me. I was happy . I was – I don’t even know why – I got sad at some point. I was like, ‘I have to make up my mind.’ So I did, and I was super happy. My family was super happy. My friends, everybody. I was super glad super excited to go and run. “
Despite his excitement, there are also some nerves. Joaquin has never been to Kansas and is the first in his family to attend college out of state. He’ll be leaving his two younger sisters, Lysha, 17, and Jacqueline, 9, behind.
“I’m a bit scared, but I feel like it’s the right path, and I can do some great things,” Joaquin said. “But I’m definitely going to miss this place.
“I’ll just remember the kindness of the people here (in Hatch). They’re so kind and humble. They’ll support you through anything, and especially my coaches and my teachers,” he said.
Miranda Cyr, a Report for America corps member, can be reached at email@example.com or @mirandacyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA.