Verrado High School’s Founding Alumni – Where Are They Now?


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Verrado High SchoolIn our rich ten year history, Verrado has grown some very smart alumni. We were curious where some of them are now, and thought you might be too.

West Point? Check. Naval Academy? Check. Stanford, Barret Honors College at ASU, New Mexico State? Check, check, check. Did you know that Verrado High School was named one of America’s Best High Schools by Newsweek? And the Washington Post listed it as one of America’s Most Challenging High Schools. The proof is in the future of these young adults, and their future looks very bright!

Of the inaugural class graduating at Verrado High School in 2010, 255 of the 264 students went on to college. Those great numbers have just gotten bigger as the school has grown.

With over $11,000,000 earned in scholarships for the VHS Class of 2014, the fifth class of seniors, Verrado scholars have taken what they’ve learned at an A+ School for Excellence and spread their wings far and wide. Robert Redford recognized the talent of former Verrado student Alejandro Castro and awarded her his film scholarship. Alejandro is currently attending the Santa Fe University of Art and Design on that scholarship. Proving herself to be a very wise choice for Mr. Redford, she recently won the award for best freshman film there. Check out the award winning film Crumbs, beginning at the 6:30 mark here.

Gayatri Malhotra received $56,000 in scholarships to Lawrence University in Wisconsin. The varsity tennis player was recruited to the Division III school, but she said her first priority was studying for a pre-medical degree. Now, following graduation, Gayatri is going to volunteer at a hospital in India for a year before going to medical school.

Claire Fischer will be graduating in May from the University of Manitoba in Canada. She has started a blog, Vegetology, with a desire to teach other people about nutrition and how healthy foods benefit and heal our bodies. She focuses on homeopathic and natural ways of healing through food. She was even featured in Rachael Ray’s Online Mag Blog. Claire minored in Asian Studies, and one of her proudest accomplishments was learning to speak Mandarin!

Ariel Jones will be graduating next May from Louisiana State University with dual degrees in Spanish and biochemistry. She won the first annual SI Leader of the Year award, and is a supplemental instructor in organic chemistry. Ariel will be graduating as a research scholar in the top 10% of her class, and is studying abroad in Argentina for a semester while applying to medical schools.

Athina Chavez graduated in May of 2013 from Northern Arizona University with a B.S. in Psychology. She did her capstone work in social/cognitive neuroscience and plans to get a Masters in neuroscience in Berlin, where she is currently studying.

Tim Winkler is graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy with a B.S. in aerospace engineering and a commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps – he is the executive officer of his company of 150 midshipmen. Tim will graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Engineering with a concentration in Aeronautical Engineering. Next, he is headed to The Basic School in Quantico, VA for Marine officer training, and then to Pensacola, FL to begin flight training. He is hoping to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Natali Olveda is the first student at Salem to be graduating with a BS in both exercise science and biology. Natali is a Lehman scholar, and two time Women in Science and Mathematics Poster Session presenter and award winner. In the fall of 2015, she plans to attend ASU’s master of exercise physiology program, where she would love to do research with clients who have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

VHS is the proud foundation for several National Merit Scholars, and holds national championships in Robotics at the Skills USA Competition as well as Broadcast Journalism from the Student Television Network National Conference.

Oh, and they’re not just very smart, they’re very athletic too. More than 50 VHS athletes have gone on to compete at the college level. Earning herself a full ride scholarship to New Mexico State (her chosen school of the many offers she received), Verrado’s hometown swimmer Picabo Bender was a triple champion at state this year, taking the 200-and 500-yard freestyle events, and helping at the 200 free relay win. So, it’s no surprise that Picoabo, who grew up right here in Verrado’s amazing schools, was chosen as this years’ outstanding athlete at VHS.

Supporting a mission of “All Students College Ready”, it’s no wonder Verrado High School graduating classes have gone on to post secondary education rates of 93% to 97%. It appears that higher education is also Very Verrado.

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