Her Journey from Failing Student to College-Bound Prom Queen

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This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about graduating seniors in the Class of 2024.

Flor3It was her freshman year, and Flor Rivas was failing all of her classes at the large urban high school she attended in Las Vegas. The situation at home wasn’t good and she never imagined she’d earn her diploma. Then a lifeline came from her brother Elios, who suggested she come live with him and his family in the small Ventura County town of Fillmore. 

c24w-v2“At first it was definitely scary. I went from a big school in Vegas to a small school where everyone knows each other,” she recalls. “But everyone was so welcoming and I loved it.” She said the faculty and staff at Fillmore High School made her feel right at home. “They’re very attentive and supportive. If you need help with anything, they go out of their way to reach out and I really needed that.” 

With the school’s help and a lot of extra work that included summer school and online classes, Flor made up the missing credits she would need to graduate. “I honestly worked so hard. I was doing extra classes, coming in early and leaving later than everyone else. It was a struggle, but I'm good now, so it was worth it.”

Flor2Flor wasn’t surprised when Fillmore High School was named a California Distinguished School for the first time ever this year. She said, “It’s an amazing school with athletics, academics, and everything. They really deserve it.”

In addition to her remarkable academic turnaround, Flor threw herself into many of the other activities that the school had to offer. She became a cheerleader and signed up for drama class to explore her interest in theater. As a violin player, she wanted to continue developing her skills and realized that joining the school’s mariachi band was the perfect opportunity. “I always felt music was something I could escape reality with. When I would play my violin, I felt like no one was there, just me and my violin.” She capped off her high school experience in style after being selected as the queen of the senior prom.

This fall, Flor will become a first-generation college student as she heads to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to study health and nursing. She’ll be pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. “I've always loved helping people and feel it’s something beautiful. It’s perfect for me.”
As Flor prepares to head to college, she wants to thank her big brother and his wife for taking her in. “I know it was super hard raising a teenager and we would bump heads at times, but I’m very thankful for them. If it wasn’t for them, honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

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