Costa Mesa teens Reyna Gonzalez Jimenez and Javier Martin have some big goals.
In recognition of their academic achievements and potential for success, the two high school seniors were presented with the THINK Together “Face of the Future” award during the nonprofit’s 20th anniversary celebration last month.
The award honors the top male and female high school students in the THINK Together program, which is determined through grades, an essay and what hurdles they have overcome to be successful.
“Some have had incredible challenges,” said THINK Together CEO Randy Barth.
“I felt excitement and pride,” Martin said about receiving the honor. “They’ve pushed me to become the best student I can be and give myself the best opportunity to pursue success.”
The organization also raised $375,000 at the benefit to continue its after-school and summer programs and the two students were each given $2,500 scholarships toward college.
Jimenez and Martin, both 17, and students at Newport Harbor High School and Sage Hill School, respectively, are the latest standouts of the Santa Ana-based organization that provides resources for young and disadvantaged students.
“All of the resources they’ve provided me helped me be who I am today,” Jimenez said, citing the tutoring, college prep and mentoring she’s received from THINK Together programs at the Shalimar Learning Center since the second grade.
One motivating factor for Jimenez’s academic accomplishments is proving to her classmates that minority students can make the same strides as their Caucasian peers.
“I just walk down the hallway … comments that I hear attack us as minorities,” she said. “The reason I took AP (Advanced Placement) class was because other students would say Mexicans as a whole aren’t as smart as us.”
Jimenez committed last week to UC Irvine, where she plans to study biological sciences in an effort to become a pediatrician and serve low-income communities.