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Meet Our Graduates
Posted 5/20/22

There is no better way to understand the magnitude and value of the investment we make in our students than to learn about our graduates. Over the next few months, we will be spotlighting some of our graduates and we encourage you to check back regularly so you can learn about their educational journey and future plans.

The most recent stories will appear first, use the links below to read other stories in the series:

 

Karla Dominguez (NHS)

Yizel Solano Gonzalez and Itzel Solano Gonzalez (VHS)

Kyla Martin (ACHS)

 

Meet Karla Dominguez

 

The Napa Valley Unified School District provides students the chance to excel in ways meaningful to them. For Class of 2022 senior Karla Dominguez, Napa High provided opportunities to refine her athletic and artistic talents as a Spiritleader. Summing up the experience Karla shared, “I was met with the most supportive and loving coaches and teammates. They not only helped me with dance, but helped me become a leader as a captain of the team, gain confidence, and grow as a person.” 

 

Hollie Johnson, director of the Napa High Spiritleaders program, continued from a coach's perspective. She remembers Karla as “an absolute joy to teach and coach. Karla pushed herself every day with hard work and a positive attitude to become the best dancer she could be. I also selected Karla as a Dance Officer where she mentors our Jazz 1 students. Karla loves giving back to our beginning dancers. She is an incredible role model for them.”

 

Karla attended McPherson and Shearer Elementary Schools, Harvest Middle School, and will graduate from Napa High School. 

 

Prepared for the Future

Looking to the future, Karla expressed confidence, observing that “NVUSD provided me with multiple opportunities to come out of my shell and be involved while staying academically challenged. I have been co-president of a club for three years, in AVID for six years, and a Spiritleader Captain, a Dance Officer, on the Breakers team, and a Girls on the Run junior coach.” Further explaining her preparation she noted, ”I have also presented to the NVUSD Board of Education about Bring Change to Mind and our fight to end the stigma surrounding mental health.” 

 

Post Graduate Plans

Karla is excited to attend UC Berkeley next year where she plans to double major in Psychology and Sociology and minor in Spanish. Her AVID teacher Brian King believes in her sharing, “Karla has always shown herself to be one hundred percent dedicated to her academics and to changing the paradigm of her family's future.” Elaborating, he said, “Her accomplishments inspire all of us at NHS AVID to reach for goals we might once have thought were unattainable."

 

It is fitting that upon graduation from Berkeley, Karla plans to pursue a career working for a mental health non-profit.

 

Karla Dominguez at a Napa High football game

Caption: Karla cheering on the Napa High football team at Memorial Stadium.

 

Double Feature

Meet Yizel Solano Gonzalez and Itzel Solano Gonzalez

 

Yizel and Itzel are twins that attended Salvador Elementary School, Redwood Middle School, and will graduate in June from Vintage High School. Summer Search, AVID, Migrant Education and music are programs that shaped their journey throughout their time in our district. According to the sisters, the programs provided an outlet to express themselves, explore their interests, and discover their strengths. 

 

Both have fond memories of their four years in the Vintage High School band. Yizel vividly recalls her first day of band camp under the hot sun with sweat dripping down her face, singing on bus trips at the top of her lungs, and playing under the Friday night lights in front of what she describes as, “the enormous stadium filled with thunderous crowds.” Yizel also sentimentally remembers “the fierce chanting of ‘We believe we will win, we believe we will win!’ during [marching band] competitions.”  These are but a few of the memories that Yizel shared that she says, “are kept in my heart.”

 

Itzel’s experience leading the flute section was a cherished memory. “When I walked into Memorial Stadium, all I could hear was the loud rumble of the audience and the stadium lights reflecting on the field,” she said. “Leading the flute section and marching to the cadence of the drum as we walked in with the football team. The crowd went wild…it was surreal.”

 

Prepared for the Future

Reflecting on her time at NVUSD Yizel said, “The district prepared me for my future by having amazing programs, teachers, and community. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for my teachers who have always encouraged me to strive for more.”

 

Itzel noted that she has been a student at NVUSD for seventeen years. “[It has] helped me flourish into an adult ready to take on the next chapter of my life,” she said. “It has offered me many opportunities and support during my learning years. I was introduced to the music program in 5th grade, and from there I had opportunities to meet wonderful teachers and counselors that have shaped who I am today.” She continued, “not only that, but the Napa Valley Community has supported me with scholarships and volunteering opportunities.”

 

While Yizel and Itzel credit their success to their teachers, programs and community, their teachers provide their own lens. Yizel’s band director at Vintage High School, Brendan Galvin, describes her as, “One of the most hard working students in the music program during her four years at Vintage. While seemingly reserved, after talking with Yizel, one without a doubt realizes that she has extremely mindful insights to share with the world.”

 

Jen LaMonte, an English teacher at Vintage High School, made a similar observation about Itzel. “In person, Itzel carries herself with a quiet gravitas. She is not given to careless chatter in class, but when it is time to speak, people listen,” said Ms. LaMonte. “In January of 2018, Itzel blew us away during the schoolwide Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. On stage, her presence was remarkable and electric. The understanding and emotional depth she communicated through her performance showed compassion, maturity and courage.  Whatever her achievements will be after graduating from Vintage, they are sure to be dazzling.”

 

Post Graduate Plans 

Discussing her future plans, Yizel says that she was raised by her mother to value education. She remembers her mother saying to her, “Mija tienes que estudiar para tener una carrera y un buen futuro.” This translates to: “Daughter, you have to study to have a career and have a great future.” She hopes to honor her mothers words and her fathers “deep callused hands, from making cement all of his life” by prioritizing her education. 

 

She is well on her way to fulfilling this commitment, having received a full ride to UC Davis where she plans to major in viticulture and enology. Equipped with this education, Yizel says, “someday, I will own my own winery and provide jobs to many immigrant people who have come to this land for an opportunity to thrive for a better future; as my parents did for me.”

 

Itzel received a full ride scholarship to Dominican University of California where she plans to study biology in a pre-med program. She looks forward to taking on internships and forming connections that will help her become a doctor. However, like Yizel, her ambition goes beyond a career. She says,  “As a Latina, I want to represent my culture and my native town Oaxaca because that is really where my roots are from. Becoming a doctor is not only for me, it's for my family and siblings who are looking up to me.”

Yizel and Itzel Solano Gonzalez outside Castillo di Amoroso

Caption: Yizel and Itzel Solano Gonzalez outside of Castello di Amorosa

 

 

Meet Kyla Martin 

 

Kyla started as a ninth-grade student at American Canyon High School (ACHS). Over the past four years, she has earned a reputation as a successful multi-sport student-athlete and community leader in the school and surrounding community.

 

Reflecting on her time as an NVUSD student, the memories she has from playing soccer and track for ACHS stand out most to her. Kyla noted that “the time learning from and growing with my teammates, competing with other NVUSD students, was really an inviting experience in both sports and something I really enjoyed.”

 

Prepared for the Future

She is grateful for the direct access to people at ACHS who helped her understand how to prepare for college. She specifical referenced access to Napa Valley College which has classrooms located on the ACHS campus. According to her ACHS counselor, Liliana Zmed, “Kyla has the strength of spirit to meet any challenge, the grace and eagerness to change the lives of others, and the intellectual ability to be a leader and agent of positive change in any of her endeavors.”

 

Post Graduate Plans

Next year, Kyla will attend Howard University in Washington D.C. where she will major in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing and advertising sales. She is excited by the opportunity at Howard to network and pursue career opportunities. Her goal is to one day build up and market her own business.

 

When asked about her next phase of life, Kyla said,  “I’m interested in learning more about myself as I grow and enter a new environment with many new, diverse, people who I can build friendships and collaborative networks with.”  She also wants to “take in everything that I can from this point on because this is the start to everything after I graduate and enter a four year college.”

 

Kyla Martin in her American Canyon High School Letterman Jacket

Caption: Kyla Martin stands on a beach in her American Canyon High School letterman jacket.