3 students graduate one year early with Class of 2020

Rosa Lemus, Mario Ronquillo, and Nancy Medrano

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that caused the cancelation of all graduation events, three Daniel Pearl Magnet High School students were able to graduate early with the Class of 2020. Despite their disappointment of not having in-person graduation, these students are excited to get a head start on their college journeys.

Julissa Jaco is one of the three students graduating early with the Class of 2020.

When Julissa Jaco decided to graduate one year early, she thought her final year of high school would be filled with happy memories with her closest friends. No one could have predicted a global pandemic taking her senior year.

“I decided to graduate early because I knew I could do more,” Jaco said. “I always knew where I wanted to take things since freshman year. I was able to put that goal into my mind and I wasn’t going to stop till I got it.”

Jaco, who has been on the water polo team since her freshman year, has always been dedicated to doing more and achieving new goals during this pandemic. She has started to learn Mandarin and has been working out almost every day. This pandemic has tested her and helped her become stronger than ever. 

As she worked for her goal of early graduation, she was devasted to hear that graduation was canceled because it represented everything students have worked for and now she would have to graduate through a screen. 

“When I got the news about the senior events cancellations, I mostly felt graduation was the hard one to take,” Jaco said. “It has been something that I had been working on for three years and it all just vanished.”

As Jaco looks toward the future, she says that she will study hard no matter the situation. She looks forward to her next step and plans on focusing on her college courses rather than sports. 

“I believe I have done everything I wanted in school,” said Jaco, who plans to attend CSUN and major in civil engineering. “From academics to sports that I don’t feel that I missed anything in my high school experience.”

 

Emily Nassir is one of the students graduating early this year with the Class of 2020.

Emily Nasir has accomplished many things. In fact, she has taken two to three college classes per semester on top of her high school courses and completed two semesters of physics in six months. 

My family really did encourage and motivate me to graduate early,” Nasir said. “I am graduating early to get a head start into medical school.” 

She is one of three Daniel Pearl Magnet High School students who are graduating early. Instead of graduating with the Class of 2021 next year, they are graduating early after three years in high school. 

Nasir is also trying to step up her game every day to obtain an associate’s degree in biotechnology and pharmacy to go into medical school and become a pediatrician, which is her dream job.

“It was worth graduating early because I really need all the practice and courses I can take to prepare me for medical school as well as my future profession in pediatrics,” Nasir said.

After high school, Nasir plans to try to complete her general education since she is 90 percent done. After getting her bachelor’s degree, she plans to go to medical school. Ever since Nasir was a sophomore, she began taking college classes to get a head start on everything. 

One of her favorite parts of being in high school is that she was able to do as many things as she can to get the high school experience. Although she is happy to be graduating early, Nasir is disappointed that she won’t be able to walk the stage since graduation and all other senior activities were canceled due to the coronavirus.

“I did not plan on graduating early until it became an option and I took the challenge,” Nasir said.

 

Fransisco Weltman

As many seniors learn to navigate an unconventional senior year due to the worldwide pandemic, Francisco Weltman did so a year ahead of his peers. After being outside of the country’s school system for most of his life, Weltman learned he was missing credits and would be a year behind his peers. 

From the moment I discovered this, I made (up) my mind to skip a grade and not only recover the lost semester but get ahead by one,” Weltman explained. 

 Following Weltman’s relocation from Brazil to the U.S. before he began the 9th grade, the differences in educational systems were brought to his attention. For Weltman, this meant the possibility of not being in the same graduating class as his peers. 

“I felt at a disadvantage at times,” Weltman said. “I was not only rushing to finish a year early, but I also had to adjust to the country as a whole.” 

With the help of guidance counselor Martina Torres, Weltman was able to take classes at Pierce College and Los Angeles Valley College to earn his missing credits. Torres is someone Weltman expresses gratitude for.

“She stopped many times to answer my questions, helped me enter the college classes…she went out of her way to help me on my early graduation,” Weltman said.  

Weltman aspires to have a career as an animation director or a storyboard artist. Weltman applied and got accepted into Columbia College Hollywood where he will continue learning about the film business.  

“What motivates me is the thought of a day I’ll be able to enjoy my life with more economic freedom and to work with something I enjoy,” Weltman said.