By SARAH CHUN
The soccer field, racetrack, band room and even Mrs. Casey’s classroom are all places on campus that Inzunza can call “second home.”
Senior Stephanie Inzunza is the pinnacle of student excellence. From academics to athletics to arts to culture, she finds her place in many different activities on campus.
Inzunza is a saxophone section leader and jazz band member, Spanish Honor Society member, four-year varsity soccer player and two-year captain, three-year track and field sprinter and an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma candidate.
Inzunza joined band in fifth grade, and in love with the program’s atmosphere, Inzunza continued her musical journey in high school.
“Band has always been an escape from everything happening around me. I love being around people with common interests and passion for music,” Inzunza said.
As a Hispanic-American, Inzunza also joined Spanish Honor Society to express her pride and love for the culture.
“[Spanish Honor Society] gives me an opportunity to bond with people [who share the] same background as me,” Inzunza said. “The club provides a family-like vibe where we can express our appreciation for our culture.”
Inzunza first started playing soccer when she was eight years old. With the endless support from her soccer-oriented family, the sport became almost second nature to her.
“Being raised in a house where soccer is a large part of everybody’s life, and with my dad being an avid soccer fan, it is no surprise that I also love and play soccer,” Inzunza said.
As Inzunza grew older, she began taking soccer to a higher level. Inzunza played on the club team Baldwin Park United from seventh grade to the beginning of senior year and joined the varsity soccer team as a freshman.
Inzunza’s love for soccer merged with her family as she continues to gain new experiences that shape her into the person she is today.
“My soccer journey changed who I am as a person, as it has given me new views on the game itself and opened my eyes to new things that I would not have learned anywhere else,” Inzunza said. “Through the family-like bond I have created with my teammates, high school soccer has the most impact on my life.”
To strengthen her soccer skills, Inzunza later joined track and field team as a sophomore with encouragement from her peers. She competes in short-distance sprinting events and both relay races due to her exceptional speed.
“I wanted to stay in shape for soccer, so I decided to give track a shot,” Inzunza said. “On the first day of practice, everyone was so nice and welcoming, which is why I stayed.”
Inzunza’s athletic abilities have been recognized through various achievements. In soccer, Inzunza earned the title of Most Valuable Player, was selected into the Valle Vista First soccer team and lead her team to California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Sections playoffs. In track and field, Inzunza placed third in the 400m dash in Valle Vista League finals and competed in the 4×4 at CIF.
Not only is she skilled in athletics, Inzunza also excels in academics. Her priority towards education influenced her to pursue the IB diploma.
“As a person who always aims to go above and beyond, I wanted to challenge and prove to myself that I can accomplish difficult tasks, [such as earning the IB diploma],” Inzunza said.
Inzunza praises IB for teaching her valuable skills that helped her through high school.
“[It] taught me skills [such as] time management that would help me in college and the real world,” Inzunza said.
Since she constantly devotes her time to her extracurriculars, Inzunza initially struggled to balance between academics and athletics.
“Other students usually go home at three [o’clock], but I always [stay] late on campus for various activities, which limits my studying time,” Inzunza said.
However, Inzunza realizes that the the key to balance is one’s mentality.
“I felt discouraged by the lack of time I had after [sports] practice. But I soon figured out that time management is about having [self-confidence] and truly believing you can accomplish the task at hand,” Inzunza said.
Other than achievements such as placements in athletic events, Inzunza takes pride in being an active member on campus.
“Being in three sports while being enrolled in the most rigorous classes at school is something that not everyone can do,” Inzunza said. “I am proud that I have managed to do so over the years.”
Inzunza credits her family members for constantly inspiring and pushing her to her full potential.
“My parents’ struggles in their past push me to do my best to make them proud,” Inzunza said. “My brother is like my life mentor who has always been there for me since the very beginning, so I am inspired by him to achieve greater things.”
As Inzunza continues to reach for the stars, she is sure to achieve success in both the near and far future.
“My goal is to make the most out of the remainder of my high school life and graduate with the IB diploma,” Inzunza said. “Thinking long-term, my dream is to open my own veterinary hospital, be the head veterinarian and earn a good paycheck, so I can support my family.”