The college application process has never been easy. However, for the Class of 2022, it is more competitive and unpredictable than ever thanks to COVID. Optional testing, limited spots due to thousands of gap year students also applying…with stress this high, we all need to give a warm hug to our soon to be graduates! National Decision Day is May 1, the deadline for students to accept their UC/CSU college admission offers.

Rowland Unified is proud of our Class of 2022 and we will be spotlighting some of our seniors and celebrating their significant achievements as we march towards graduation. 
#WeAreRUSD – #Classof2022Proud!
Bound for the Ivy League
Rowland High School Senior Jocelyne Wijaya and Nogales High School Senior Juan Valdez are bound for prestigious Ivy League Colleges. Wijaya above on her campus tour at Princeton University.
It was a roller coaster day filled with nail biting and anticipation. Called “IVY DAY,” all Ivy League colleges across the U.S. release their admissions acceptances on the same day. “I was so scared, I didn’t know which email to open first so I did a spin the wheel,” said Rowland High School Senior Jocelyne Wijaya. “As soon as I saw the huge tiger and confetti I screamed and started crying – really ugly crying! I knew I was just accepted into Princeton.”

Wijaya is the first person in her immediate family to attend college, with parents who immigrated from Indonesia. She is both an AP and International Baccalaureate scholar student, active in a variety of extra-curricular activities including the Academic Decathlon, where she was the highest scoring academic decathlete in the regional camps during the 2020-21 competition, earning 3 gold, 1 silver, and 4 bronze medals and the Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Achievement.

She believes it is her interest in politics and social justice that has played a pivotal role in making her stand out during the college process. “I created a blog a few years ago where I summarize current events, both political and economic affairs, to make news more accessible for students. My rational is now a days students don’t go on safari actively seeking information on Iran or Ukraine, but by bringing them this content on social media, this knowledge goes beyond a traditional post.” Her news blog @itssummarized can be found on Instagram.

Wijaya has just returned from touring the Princeton campus. “My time at Princeton was fantastic to say the least. It was the most insightful and eye-opening experience I’ve had for a long time. I was with so many incredible minds — all curious, innovative, and creative students and I truly felt the power of intellectual discourse being surrounded by such amazing peers.”

As an IB student, she fell in love with the research process and knew that any undergraduate university she applied to should have a strong and robust research program. “At Princeton, at the end of your four years you are required to write a capstone project and that is something that really excites me.” She plans to major in Political Science and study law.
 Wijaya credits her role model Rowland High School IB Coordinator Mr. Ludlam. “He was brutal and straight forward. It was that kind of constructive criticism that made me work harder and because of his knowledge of the college admissions process I was able to go far. I want to reiterate that I am incredibly fortunate and would not have gotten through this process without the help of everyone on this campus.”
Nogales High School Senior Juan Valdez is headed to Harvard University.
For Nogales High School Senior Juan Valdez, he was shocked when he got the news that he was headed for Harvard. It is an impressive accomplishment for anyone, especially for someone who came to this country just four years ago.
“I was actually in my car with my parents and on my phone checking emails. I didn’t expect to get into an ivy league school. I had other colleges that I was accepted to and would be happy to go to, but then I saw the confetti on my screen and thought, ok…this is really happening!”

Valdez’s entire family were also astonished with his full-ride scholarship. “There was a mutual feeling of excitement but then our disbelief turned to silence. It began to sink in. The sacrifice that we have done to be in this country has paid off. We came from Guadalajara, Mexico when I was in the 8th grade. I didn’t know a word of English so I had to learn it from scratch. But thanks to the support of teachers, friends and family members, they were able to push me to be who I am. The fact that I worked hard, and the process got me where I am today has brought me so much happiness.”

Valdez is an International Baccalaureate student who has received numerous awards. He was selected as a Pepperdine Youth Citizenship Scholar where he went through a rigorous justice training in leadership. He also received the prestigious Award of Excellence from the Congress of Future Medical Leaders. Valdez has the coveted distinction of being a QuestBridge Prep Scholar, a national program that identifies and tracks the best and the brightest high-achieving high school students from low-income backgrounds with the knowledge, confidence, and resources to apply to top colleges for a full-ride scholarship when they are juniors. He made the choice to apply to colleges as a regular applicant, versus a QuestBridge College Match Scholarship, to keep his choices open. Last month, Valdez also received the SchoolHouse Connection Scholarship and was awarded $2,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. He loves music and has been involved in the Nogales Noble Regiment Band all four years and has fun playing his piano and ukulele at home when he has free time.
Valdez was accepted to many colleges, including Claremont McKenna, UCLA and Stanford, but it was the prestige of Harvard, their amazing research program in molecular and cellular biology, and studying on the East Coast that made his decision easy. He received a full-ride scholarship to Harvard that will meet his entire cost of attendance with zero incurred debt.
“Juan is an anomaly among a generation that is influenced and exposed to constant messages about who and what they should be,” says Ricardo Ramirez, RUSD College Liaison. “He is strong-willed, fearless, and has achieved exponential personal growth and self-actualization at an age where students like him are gradually making sense of the world around them. He is simply that phenomenal.”
Last week he was able to take a virtual campus tour through the Harvard Visitas event. I’ve met so many students already from different backgrounds that will make the transition phase a little easier once I get to Harvard. One of the Harvard students he has connected with and can't wait to meet when he arrives is Nogales Noble alumni Osvaldo Cervantes, who was a 2019 Gates Scholarship winner.
“Additionally, I have been able to speak to representatives from the undocumented communities, especially from the Act on a Dream group that advocates for immigrant and undocumented rights. Harvard has a really nice campus, spacious and it is usually cold which I’m particularly excited about. There’s a ton of different things to do and clubs I am looking forward to joining once I start. The professors I met are really nice, understanding and incredibly smart as well. It’s a little intimidating but I’m sure I will thrive in that environment.”

We can't wait to share more senior spotlights in the next issue!
Hot off the press! Rowland Unified and 18 of our schools just received notice that they were winners of the 2022 California Pivotal Practice Award! The award program is being utilized by California in 2022 in place of the California Distinguished Schools (DS) Program. It celebrates schools and districts that implemented an innovative practice during the 2020–21 school year, when California required schools to offer distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 727 schools and 121 school districts are being honored for their demonstrated efforts to support students in:
  • Student Engagement
  • Distribution of Technology
  • Nutrition Services
  • Social Emotional Well-Being of Students
Congratulations to our District, schools, staff and students! More information to come!
RUSD Performing Arts Center Upcoming Events
Performances April 28 and 29 at 6:30 PM, & 30 at 1 PM and 5:30 PM.
Tickets are $10.

Nogales High School Opens "Blithe Spirit" TONIGHT
Nogales High School Drama Company is proud to present the production, "Blithe Spirit." The show is about a man who accidentally brings back the ghost of his deceased wife and now she haunts his new wife; they must learn to "try" and coexist with this new complicated love triangle. 
April 28, 2022 Issue RUSD News Editor
Proud to Serve Our Communities of Rowland Heights, La Puente, Walnut & West Covina