Four Area Students Receive Student of the Year Awards

Left to right, front row: Hai Vu, Perris High School; Eddy Salas, California Military Institute;...

Left to right, front row: Hai Vu, Perris High School; Eddy Salas, California Military Institute; Esmeralda Garcia, Paloma Valley High School; Karla Ortiz, Heritage High School. Back row: Dr. Jonathan Greenberg, Superintendent, Perris Union High School District; Mayor Daryl Busch, City of Perris; Councilman John Denver, City of Menifee; Bea Parmley, President/CEO, Perris Valley Chamber of Commerce; Dorothy Wolons, President/CEO, Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Four Perris Union High School District students were recently honored at the Perris Valley and Menifee Valley Chambers of Commerce Student of the Year Scholarship and Recognition dinner at Monteleone Meadows in Murrieta.

The four students -- My Thuy Hai Vu, Eddy Salas, Esmeralda Garcia and Karla Ortiz -- competed in a vigorous scholarship application process and each winner received a $2,148 scholarship donated by community organizations and businesses, and also received gifts and certificates.

Garcia is Paloma Valley High School’s Student of the Year. She holds a 4.3 GPA, and has been awarded the Dell Scholarship as well as the Gates Millennium Scholarship. The Dell scholarship is awarded to only 300 students nationwide and the Gates Millennium is awarded to 1,000 students nationwide. To win one of these scholarships is difficult; to win both is nearly impossible. Garcia credits her success to her faith, gifts given, family, friends and school. Garcia will attend UCLA and major in cognitive science through social research and computing.

Ortiz, Heritage High School’s Student of the Year, is described as dedicated, hard-working, and humble by Principal Julie Zierold. Ortiz attributes her success to her father, who has instilled the value of education and opportunities in her and her brothers. She also credits her involvement in volunteering both locally and internationally, as she describes a recent trip to the Dominican Republic. Ortiz will be attending UC Berkley to major in political science and plans to continue her education to obtain a law degree and utilize her skills working in the Peace Corps.

Vu was Perris High School’s December Student of the Month and now the Student of the Year. She originally moved to the United States at the age of 5 and was very shy throughout her childhood. When she enrolled in Heritage High School, she decided to join clubs and participate in various school programs to become less shy. Vu attributes her participation in clubs as helping her to excel socially and academically.

Salas, California Military Institute’s regimental commander considers himself to be an average high school student, but according to Principal Richard Wallis, Salas is one of the finest cadets to attend CMI. Wallis and other CMI attendees describe Salas' character as someone who who leads with humility.

These students have been honored for their dedication to academics, c