The annual celebration of education excellence was held July 24 at the Soboba Casino Resort Event Center where the Soboba Tribal Council presented its Academic Achievement Awards Ceremony. More than 65 students were recognized for outstanding performance during the 2021-2022 school year.
About 400 family members and friends were on hand to support the success of the Tribal youth, whose hard work and dedication led to some amazing accomplishments. A welcome from Soboba Tribal Council Chairman Isaiah Vivanco was followed by a blessing and a performance by the Inter-Tribal Bird Singers and Dancers. A buffet-style lunch was available before the heart of the program, honoring students, began.
After a video presentation that highlighted each student, recipients were called up by specific categories, with each receiving a certificate and trophy. Soboba Tribal Executive Officer Steven Estrada served as emcee.
Those students earning Silver Achievement with a Grade Point Average of 3.0-3.4 are Agustin Luca Salgado-Galvan, Grade 7; Brave Alvarez, Grade 6; Ciara Ramos, Grade 11; Daniel Valdez Jr., Grade 10; Danny Placencia-Garcia, Grade 8; Delilah Boniface, Grade 6; Luisa Rivera, Grade 10; Marco Hernandez, Grade 8; Moyla Arviso, Grade 7; Nohewee Sandoval, Grade 7; Phyllis Morillo, Grade 6; Shawna Rivera, Grade 8; Selaya Helms, Grade 8; So’a Nelson, Grade 11; and Tatianna Briones, Grade 11.
Students obtaining Gold Achievement for a GPA of 3.5-3.9 are Aimee Suvoowut Organ, Grade 9; Adam Post, Grade 7; Aureny Manzanilla, Grade 8; Bella Ward, Grade 7; Ginger Velazquez, Grade 7; Iyana Briones, Grade 11; Janessa Mojado, Grade 8; Jezebel Herrera, Grade 8; Kimani Resvaloso-Sanchez, Grade 7; Lavina Lopez, Grade 6; Raya Salgado, Grade 6; Raelina Castillo, Grade 6; Soowut Rodriguez, Grade 11; and Zachary Guacheno, Grade 9.
Platinum Achievement honors were presented to students with a GPA of 4.0 and above. They are April Garcia, Grade 6; Ava Ciccone-Cozart, Grade 9; Avellaka Manzanilla, Grade 10; Emma Ushla Organ, Grade 11; Jade Reyes, Grade 9; Lorraine Salgado-Galvan, Grade 10; Rudy V. Sanchez, Grade 10; and Savannah Rivera, Grade 8.
“At this time, we would like to recognize the following recipients for successfully completing all the requirements and receiving a high school diploma which will allow them to further their educational goals,” Estrada said.
In addition to a certificate of achievement, each graduate was gifted with a ceramic olla and Pendleton blanket after being introduced with a short description of their hobbies and future plans and goals.
Aaliyah E. Reynoso enjoys being involved in her local Native American Club and has many plans for her future. Abbie Nevarez enjoys creating art and beading and plans to attend community college before transferring to a university. Alyssa Appleby enjoys bible study, hiking and various leadership roles and her goal is to become a teacher. Carlotta Valenzuella has a passion for automotive design and plans on continuing to pursue that field. David Morreo enjoys hiking and gaming with a goal of earning his broker’s license and owning his own business.
Dilhitchalakai Delores Modesto enjoys drawing, painting and writing and plans to attend UCR to obtain a degree in business. Draven Helms likes basketball and gaming and plans to join the basketball team at MSJC where he will pursue higher education. Ellie Mae Nevarez enjoys shopping, fashion design and dance and plans to attend community college before transferring to a university.
Jayden Basquez has been accepted to California State University, Fullerton and hopes to work in the animation industry. Jeremiah Ramos is enrolled in the Firefighter Explorers Program and enjoys sports. He plans to attend EMT school and Fire Academy to become a firefighter/paramedic. Leah Lelani Lopez is involved with Soboba Youth Council and enjoys beading, singing and basket weaving. She plans to become a therapist.
Mary K. Silvas plans to attend the University of Idaho to study arts and animation. Her goal is to become an animator that influences society on Native Americans. Michael Morreo will be attending Universal Technical Institute in Arizona to become an auto mechanic. Posuunyot Briones enjoys football, rugby and weightlifting. He has a passion for leading by example with self-discipline, structure and spirit. His goal is to push his physical boundaries and become a professional bodybuilder.
Ryan Begay enjoys music, reading and photography. He plans to attend culinary school and eventually open his own café. Tishmanim Rhodes is an active member of Indian Club and the WE LEAD program who also likes painting and travelling and plans on getting a cosmetology license.
Estrada then called the final group to the stage area to be recognized for successfully completing all the requirements and receiving a degree or certificate in their chosen field of study. Each student received a certificate of achievement, ceramic olla, lanyard and Pendleton blanket.
Avellaka Arviso, graduated from Dean College and is an alumnus of Chi Alpha sigma. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies and wants to earn a Juris Doctor degree with a goal of practicing Native law and representing Tribal communities.
Ebony Sanchez Duro attended UEI College of Riverside to become a Licensed Pharmacy Technician. She has a love for travel and enjoys beading and plans to continue her education to earn an associate degree in Business Administration.
Joanna Goodfield earned her Nursing, Associate of Science degree from Mt. San Jacinto College. In her spare time, she enjoys beading and anything involving home DIY projects. She is excited to see where her nursing degree will take her.
Julissa Garcia obtained associate degrees in Child Development & Education and Social & Behavioral Science from Mt. San Jacinto College. She plans to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential. She also enjoys self-defense training.
Lenora “Ponie” Mojado, earned a Mt. San Jacinto College Associate of Science degree in Child Development. She intends to continue her education and obtain her bachelor’s degree. In her spare time she likes to play softball, craft and draw.
Rachelle Peterson received her Master of Science degree from San Diego State University. She has worked diligently in preparation to work as a psychologist serving the Native American community. She is an active participant in the Native American and Indigenous Scholars Project (SHPA) and in two years will earn her Education Specialist Degree.
Sherrina Herrera earned an Associate of Science degree from Dean College. She enjoys playing basketball and softball and is involved in the National Society of Leadership and Success. Her goal is to earn her bachelor’s degree and become an investigator for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division.
Summer Rain Helms obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from UCLA. She has an extensive resume with involvement with the university’s American Indian Recruitment project, the Eagle and Condor Liberation Front and the American Indian Science & Engineering Society. She plans on writing children’s books before continuing her education.
In closing, Chairman Vivanco said for the past seven years, this particular event has continued to grow and that is a testament to the youth of Soboba putting in the effort.
“The support given by the Tribe will help to ensure their success in the future. Thank you all for taking the time today to show your individual support. I want to thank the Tribal Council for making this event successful,” Vivanco said.
He also wished the recent graduates the best of luck as they begin the next step in their lives.
“Good luck to the junior and high school students who will be returning this fall,” Vivanco said. “I hope to see you all again next year to celebrate your accomplishments.”
Soboba Vice Chairwoman Geneva Mojado congratulated all the family members who supported their children through their successful academic and personal journeys.
“We’d also like to thank the Soboba Casino banquet staff, IT, accounting, volunteers and Andrew Vallejos and his team for helping this event come together,” she said.
Photos courtesy of Robert A. Whitehead