Turning a new leaf

Adriana Morales is giving a speech.
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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Adriana Morales stands proud in front of her peers delivering her valedictorian speech for Frontier High School's 2011 Graduation Ceremony. © Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Adriana Morales was on a downward spiral in her freshman year of high school. She had a negative attitude and failing grades at Adolfo Camarillo High.

But she went through a transformation after she enrolled at Frontier High School in Camarillo during her junior year.

The 18-year-old was elected student body president in October, maintained a 4.0 GPA, was named top scholar of the senior class and received her diploma at graduation yesterday.

“I’m happier now because I know I’m successful and I know I can do whatever goals I have,” Adriana said. “My dreams are coming true one by one, and I love it.”

The transition was not an overnight success, she said, but she gained confidence in her abilities and began to listen to her instructors.

She said the teachers at Frontier made an extra effort to spend time one- on- one to help her understand a concept. They also wouldn’t accept her excuses that she couldn’t succeed and pushed her to try harder.

“The Frontier staff made me realize all the opportunities out there,” Adriana said. “They would always believe in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.”

Although many teachers affected her growth, she said, it was her English teacher, Kim Dallape, who touched her life forever.

“She’s that one teacher I’ll never forget,” Adriana said. “She would go out of her way to help me. I’ll always be thankful to her for encouraging me.”

Adriana also credits her success to the support of her family and her recent relationship with God.

She attended church as a child but was never involved until she saw a change in her sister, who had made a commitment to faith. Adriana now attends a church in Oxnard and relies on the Bible for direction and inspiration.

“I see all the miracles that God has done,” she said. “I wake up every morning and I’m thankful.”

In addition to her school commitments, Adriana works 10 hours weekly at a Camarillo car wash and is saving up to buy her first car.

Despite her busy schedule, Adriana volunteers every week. She spends Fridays at the Food Pantry in Camarillo and frequently helps at a homeless park in Oxnard. She plans to start volunteering at a hospital and a retirement home this summer.

“I think it helps the community,” Adriana said. “I know it’s impossible, but I want peace in the world.”

Adriana will attend Ventura College in the fall; she wants to study teaching, law or medicine. Although the fields differ, she said, her priority is making a difference.

“I want to be involved in changing somebody’s life,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to help, and I’ve never left that behind.”

Adriana looks up to her mom as a role model because she is a single mother who raised nine children while struggling with diabetes.

“Things have not been easy for her,” Adriana said. “ She works so hard but always made sure to give us love.”

Adriana now takes on that role to set a good example for her younger brother in eighth grade. She makes sure he does his homework and inspires him to pursue a higher education after high school. Adriana is the third person in her family to graduate from high school and will be the first to graduate from college.

“I’m thankful for my huge, big family,” Adriana said. “It pushes me to try my best because I’m not just doing it for myself, I’m doing it for my family.”

Adriana advises struggling students to look to her transformation as an inspiration to improve their outlook in education and life.

“I would encourage them and tell them people were negative toward me before,” she said.

“But I’m proving them wrong. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

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