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First generation grads encourage others

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff

What may define part of this generation is their ability to persevere.

Carlos Tinoco, Karina Heredia and Modesto Lopez are first-generation graduates who will walk with Park City High School’s class of 2006.

"I am really excited," Tinoco said.

He came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1999. He plans to work over the summer, and wants to attend Utah Valley State College and is also looking at other options in Salt Lake City.

Tinoco is a recipient of the Spirit of J.D. Scholarship which was founded in the memory of J.D. Quitiquit, a young man who died at the age of 16 and would have been part of this year’s graduating class. The award was given for a willingness to try hard, regardless of challenges.

"Never give up," Tinoco said adding that giving all of your effort to something is the way to obtain it. "If you want to do something, focus on it."

Karina Heredia came to the U.S. in 1995. She is the first person in her family to graduate from an American high school and received a scholarship from the Underdog Foundation designated for a Hispanic who is the first in their family to go to college. She also earned a full year tuition scholarship from Utah Valley State College.

She said her family set a good example for her, and her father encouraged her saying even if she didn’t get scholarships he would try and pay her way through school.

Heredia said she is excited to be graduating and offered advice to other first-generation students trying to get through high school.

"Don’t give up and try new things," she said.

Lopez, who came to the U.S. in 1998 from Mexico, credits his success to those who he said helped keep him motivated.

"The other people around me, especially my teachers and parents," he said.

Lopez earned four scholarship awards: one from the Underdog Foundation identical to Heredia’s, a Maak/Milken award designated for a Hispanic student, a National Honors Society scholarship for being an outstanding member of the National Honors Society and one from an anonymous donor for a student planning to major in architecture.

He plans to start his post high school career at Salt Lake Community College and later transfer to the University of Utah.

Lopez’s words of advice to other first-generation students are, "to keep it up, failure is not an option."


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