RIO VISTA — It might not have been easy all the time, but Rio Vista high school graduate Maria Silva made the grade and took the walk, diploma in hand.
The 18-year-old recently graduated from Rio Vista High School with a 3.7 grade point average after pitching in to help her single, working mother take care of two younger brothers, ages 9 and 15.
“I overcame the challenge of . . . practically being raised by a single mother,” she said.
Earning her diploma and acceptance letters to all of her chosen universities wasn’t easy for the teen. Silva had to learn how to manage her time wisely and would sometimes study in the mornings before school.
“It was hard to take care of my brothers and go to school, and doing all of my homework and staying on top,” she said.
Silva’s parents separated when she was 10 years old. Once in high school, Silva said she needed emotional support. She was quick to name a few influential teachers and school administrators who helped her along the way, such as high school guidance counselor Loretta Abbott and former Rio Vista teacher Erika Bracamontes, who taught Advanced Placement U.S. History and Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, a class that helps students prepare for college.
“In the beginning of junior year I was really shy and quiet, and I really didn’t say much. In a way, (Bracamontes) helped me get out of my invisible bubble I was in . . . She helped me speak more – to talk, open up and communicate,” Silva said.
Silva was also able to improve her writing skills, thanks to Brandi Gomes, who teaches Advanced Placement English Literature and Conversation, and AVID. English and journalism became Silva’s favorite subjects.
“They all supported me and encouraged me to keep moving forward and to pursue my dreams and that I could do it,” she said.
Even though the teen had plenty to keep her busy, Silva still made time for community service. The teen helped organize activities at her school for Red Ribbon Week and she has been involved with the local Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs program – ATOD of Rio Vista.
“One of my main goals (is to get) students and people in general to understand the consequences of using those substances or using drugs or getting too high,” she said.
Silva considers herself “lucky” that she was accepted into three California State University programs: San Francisco, Channel Islands and Sonoma. She said she still wants to stay close to her family.
“Right now, I decided on San Francisco because it’s not that far away from home,” she said. “That was another thing. I did not want to go that far because I still want to help my mom out as much as I can.”
Silva will be the first in her family to attend college – a major feat, she said, for her and her mother.
“I’m going to be the first one to ever go to college out of my family so that’s a big accomplishment,” she said.
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.