Stanford-Bound Grad Celebrates Earning His Diploma and His Citizenship

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This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about outstanding graduating seniors in the Class of 2021.

CarlosCarlos Alcantar has a lot to celebrate. In addition to graduating as Buena High School’s valedictorian with a 4.75 grade point average and being accepted to Stanford University, he also recently became a US citizen. Carlos has lived in the US since he was two years old and says it’s a huge relief to now be a citizen of the only country he’s ever really known. “Because of the citizenship opportunity, I’m able to not worry so much about my future,” he says.

And his future is looking bright indeed. Unable to take the SAT due to COVID-related disruptions, he applied to several top universities hoping his grades, activities, and personal story would earn him a spot. He was starting to worry after being rejected from Columbia and wait-listed at Harvard. And then came the good news from Stanford. “It really makes me speechless to think the admissions committee saw something within me despite not having an SAT score,” he says.

class-of-2021Carlos will be majoring in chemistry after developing a passion for it from his chemistry teacher Richard Smith. “I loved his classes, and it’s because of him that I am a chemistry major,” he says. Carlos was involved with several academic clubs, including the Science League, the Knowledge Bowl, and the Academic Decathlon. His favorite was Science League, where students conduct experiments and share their love of science with their classmates. “The ultimate goal of the club is to promote science in our community and to change the stigma that science is a boring subject that you have to do at school,” he says. “We show that it has real-world applications and can be used to accomplish all sorts of stuff.”

Carlos is still thinking about his career goals but knows he’ll work in a field that incorporates chemistry. As he prepares to receive his diploma, he wants to thank his teachers and counselors at Buena High School and his older brother Ernesto – who just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania – for guiding him through the college application process.

Carlos says his mom and dad deserve special thanks, and he has this message for them as he’s about to head to college: “I would not be here without your sacrifice and all of the love you gave me. I appreciate that you believe in me and always encourage me to try my best. If it weren’t for your continued support, I don’t know where I’d be. I’m so glad to have such loving and amazing parents who push me to be the very best man I can be.”


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