Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NHS' Silva On Road To Success

Diego Silva, one of 243 to graduate in Nordhoff’s class of 2008 last week, will be attending the University of California at Davis in the fall

By Linda Harmon
Diego Silva is an inspiration, a fresh-faced, good-natured Nordhoff graduate on his way to bigger and better things. He brings to mind the Dale Carnegie book,”How to Win Friends and Influence People.” His story of success includes “pulling himself up by his bootstraps” and “reaching for the American dream.”
Silva, a 19-year-old legal immigrant, has been accepted to three colleges this year and will soon leave Ojai to study mechanical engineering at the University of California at Davis. He remembers a day back in Mexico when his father, a welder, asked for his help to figure the area of a corral he needed to construct.
“I didn’t know how to do it. My father had to go find someone else to help him,” said Silva, who is as amazed as anyone else how far he has come. “Now, I love math. I have discovered math is part of me. I have learned things that I didn’t even know existed.”
Silva, who has made Ojai his home since 2004, leaves Ojai to attend college in September with the respect and support of teachers and students alike. Silva was awarded a full scholarship and also received the honorary George Valle Memorial Award.
“The Valle Award is one of Nordhoff’s highest,” said Nordhoff vice principal Susana Arce, who was among those who recommended Silva for the award. “George Valle was an outstanding 1964 alumni who was a self-made man who did a lot in our community. The award is given to the student who rises above in three areas: sportsmanship, enthusiasm and community service. Diego earned it for his achievements.”
Denise Thomas, Nordhoff curriculum support administrator and AVID coordinator, agrees. She had Silva in her AVID class last year. AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college preparatory program for students that enables disadvantaged secondary students to succeed in rigorous curricula, enter mainstream activities in school, and increase their opportunities to enroll in four-year colleges.
“Diego came to Ojai without speaking a word of English, but it wasn’t long before he moved out of special classes,” said Thomas. “He was one of those students who actually wanted to talk to me. It’s part of the AVID program to guide students who don’t have support at home to successful college entrance. He wanted to tell me about his day and I got to know him really well right away.”
Silva came to Ojai from a small town in Michoacan, Mexico, Santa Ana Maya, on his own.
“Santa Ana Maya is similar to Ojai but not as green,” said Silva smiling. “My parents bought my plane ticket for my birthday to visit my cousin and aunt here in Ojai.”
Silva says his aunt, Lucemaria Garcia, treated him like her son and his cousin, Alejandro Garcia, treated him like a brother. It was only after the then 15-year-old Silva’s visit was due to end that he was asked if he wanted to stay and go to school in Ojai.
“My family wasn’t a united family so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me,” said Silva. “In Mexico I hated school. My mom would yell at me for my grades. Here, I was inspired by Nordhoff and all the opportunities to go farther in life. I was kind of determined to learn English and get what I wanted.”
Thomas said Silva was singled out for another honor three weeks ago when he was asked to speak at the AVID awards banquet held on the California Lutheran College campus. He was chosen out of all the seniors in the county to be the main speaker and share his story.
As for now, Silva visited the U.C. Davis campus last April.
“I got really amazed,” said Silva. “First I come to Nordhoff from Mexico and I am amazed. Then I see the college. I loved the buildings, the gym, and the stadium. I love the campus and the town.”
Silva will be living in a dorm on campus. He says he doesn’t plan on working as “it will be tougher and I want to focus on my studies.”
Silva has been used to working and studying. He got his first job in Ojai at the Deer Lodge washing dishes and then waiting tables. “It was a little stressful.” Silva sometimes worked 43 to 48 hours a week while attending school.
“Then I started working for McDonald’s where I work now,” said Silva. “I am a cashier and I love the job because my schedule can adjust. They even let me do homework if there are no customers. One of my best friends there is driving me to college in September.”
Thomas can also attest to Silva’s perseverance out of school. She often saw him jogging to work after school on the bike path when his first and only car broke down this year.
He has since replaced it with a bike.
“I figure I didn’t need a car,” said Silva, who won’t be able to have a car as a freshman on the U.C. campus. “And I’m saving money for September.”
Silva hopes to finish school, become an American citizen and get a job in his field that will enable him to buy a home and help his family back in Mexico.
Silva, one of the featured speakers at this year’s graduation, read his poem about Nordhoff, a tribute to his alma mater.

Rabih Abasi, Erica Aguilar, Jamie Allen, Lance Allen, Alexandria Anderson, Robert Anderson, Claudia Angeles, Zane Ashby, Hannah Atkinson, Alyse Bader, Chloé Baer, Brandon Baker, Dustin Baker, Kelsey Baker, Hansel Balayan, Eric Banks, Casey Barker, Pamela Barron, Alyse Benavente, Amber Blanks, Jonathan Bower, Garrett Boyd, Yesenia Brambila, Joseph Brooks, David Brown, Victoria Brown, Chloe Bunker, Clinton Burger, Aran Burke, Evan Bush, Salina Butterfield, Rebekah Caballero-Perez, Adriana Calderon, Angelina Campitelli, Dillon Carlson, Chad Carr, Rebekah Casas, Barry Case, Angie Castañeda, Cody Christie, Patrick Christl, Leonidas Christofides, Amanda Clark, Matthew Clark, Shawn Clark, Allison Clifford, Annaliessa Coffman, Nicholas Colbern, Michelle Cole, Byanca Contreras, Enoc Cortez, Sophia Cotsis, Ruby Covarrubias, Tyler Cowles, Tenaya Cowsill, Katherine Cresto, Katie Damas, Chelsea Davy, Ashley De La O, Zachary Deneen, ChoCho DeSantis, Adam Devine, Ulysses Diaz, Christian Dominguez, Brooke Downard, Alina Downer, Scott Doyle, Ryan Drury, Elizabeth DuBrin, Yesenia Echeverria, Kelley Egus, Shane Elder, Jason Endo, Adam Erickson, John Espinoza, Danielle Fariseo, Sara Faulstich, Mishone Feigin, Joseph Finley, Michael Finley, Maria Flores, Rogelio Flores, Miranda Frost, Kosuke Fujikura, William Fulton III, Stephen Futujma, Jose Galindo, Shantay Garcia, Jordan Garst, Gracie Gartrell, Matthew Gay, Roxanne Geering, John Gianelli, Chad Gibson, Christopher Gibson, Brandon Glennon, Yvonne Gomez, Edgar Gonzalez, Dayanne Gordillo, Aaron Gottesman, Garrett Graham, Madison Gram, Amy Gronnebeck, Garrett Gross, Ryan Hallsten, David Halpern, Aaron Hamilton, Matthew Hartmann, Morgan Harwell, Thomas Hedley, Dale Henderson, Adam Hennigan, Shelby Herbruck, Sekoya Hibbard, Katie Hinks, Justin Homze, Alex Hunsaker, Kelsy Jehle, Dylan Jones, Kristina Jones, Jesus Jungo, Max Kaffel, Damian Kaiser, Miranda Kapin, Cody Keller, April Kenney, Gregory Kiddie, Michelle Kilpatrick, Kyleigh Kirkland, Kyle Kline, Henry Kruchko, Ryan Lagos, Andrew Laird, Daniel Landis, Elide Lara, Samantha Law, Trevor Lawry, Sang Eun Lee, Annelore Leupold, Emily Levett, James Lewis, Bradley Loe, Amanda Lopez, Nataly Lopez, Angie Luna, Noel Luna, Josuel Lupercio, Stephanie Lynn, Martin Mares, Anthony Martinez, Daniel Mathis, Miguel Maya, Justin McCallum, Claire McCarthy, Meredith McCormick, Ana McDaniel, Paris McGraw, Sarah Meade, Riley Meisch, Albert Mireles, Angelica Montelongo, Daniel Moon, Alexsandre Moore, Annelise Moore, Kelsey Moore, Cristina Moreno, Bryan Morris, Tyler Morris, David Mulligan, Taylor Myers, Molly Nation, Harley Neiderhiser, Molly Oakland, Garrett Ochoa, Brock Odle, Belen Ortiz, Kelsey Owen, Samantha Perez, Sarah Phipps, Omar Plaza, Jesus Ponce-Calderon, Emily Praetorius, Zoe Quinn, Emma Radding, Maria Ramirez, Scott Reames, Riley Reasor, Kacy Reed, Alissa Rennacker, Robin Ring, Casey Robbins-Peterson, Pietro Rocco, Jaymie Rodems, Charles Rodriguez, Juan Rodriguez, Shane Rogers, Mieko Romming, Rigoberto Ruiz, Alexandro Samano, Ramon Sanchez, Julia Scott, Dalton Seek, Steven Sharp, Joseph Shelby-Dunn, Diego Silva, Sofie Skriung, Adam Slifkin, Joshua Slifkin, Tahnee Smith, Erik Solecki, Gerardo Soria, Daisy Soriano, Jacob Spencer, Jeremy Spencer, Kellye Spencer, Allen Stage, Hollie Stanley, Cody Stephens, Jessica Stern, Bryce Swetek, Shruti Thukral, Lindsay Tilmont, Ronni Townley, Taylor Triggs, Alan Tucker, Barbara Tucker, Veronica Vaughan, Pilar Vega, Evelyn Villares, Brianna Viveros, Tyler Wadsworth, Katya Welborn, Joseph Wells, Graham Whipple, Tuesdé White, Forrest Whitman, Bryan Whitten, Brandon Widder, Chelsea Wilson, Lindsay Wilson, Grant Winfrey, Devin Witt, and Joslyn Wood.


Suza said...

What an inspiring young man!

eL_Manchego said...

I know Diego since he arrived to Nordhoff. I was in his first class at the school and since then his enthusiasm impressed me. He always wanted to participated in class, and be the best… and his hard work has recompensed him.

Good luck at UC Davis. Buena suerte!

Anonymous said...

I don't know him but I know his father and his family in Mexico.
Good people. I hope his dreams come true.