Whatever it is, Alena Saldivar gets it done.
Between a full course load, her duties as senior class president, running varsity track, playing varsity soccer, a part-time job and her responsibilities as vice president of both the honor society and Unity – an on-campus club – it could be easy to fall behind.
Instead, she takes everything one step at a time and does it to the best of her ability.
A soon-to-be graduate of University High School, Saldivar has spent the past four years inspiring and leading classmates.
“She is, without a doubt, the person who motivated this class and who has organized this class,” said Paul Schneider, the senior class adviser at University, who worked closely with Saldivar throughout the year. “But more than that, I think Alena serves as a pretty powerful example of a young person who is walking the walk.”
Schneider also noted Saldivar’s resilience as a quality that makes her a good leader.
When Saldivar was 6 years old, her father died due to severe heart disease. Shortly after, Saldivar was diagnosed with the same condition.
“And at that very young age I realized that being healthy is what was going to keep me alive,” she said. “And the reason my dad died was because he didn’t receive a heart transplant. So a big goal of mine is to always maintain being a good candidate for a transplant, and also be able to withstand that process.”
Despite the fact that she can potentially go into congestive heart failure at any time, Saldivar has never shied away from physical challenges. Her competitive spirit and her desire to stay healthy bred her passion for soccer.
“Soccer has played a really big role in my life,” Saldivar said. “Soccer is the biggest step to making me not only love being athletic, but soccer also, competitively, has given me mental strength. I think if I didn’t have mental strength, I wouldn’t be able to fight that constant fear of going into congestive heart failure at any time. Soccer has given me the mental strength and physical abilities to withstand the consistent challenge. I would feel way more afraid of my heart disease without soccer.”
Fear is not a concept Saldivar seems to experience. In a few months, she’ll move across the state to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. She plans to eventually achieve a doctorate of law, and although she isn’t sure exactly what her path afterward will be, she plans to use her platform to fight for justice.
Despite experiencing what some might consider setbacks in her own life, Saldivar wants to spend her future fighting for others.
Whether it be as a public servant, a prosecuting attorney or a volunteer wherever she is needed, Schneider is sure that Saldivar will make a difference.
“She’s one of those people who will have an impact on whatever she wants to have an impact on,” he said. “When she finds her niche, she will absolutely excel.”
“She is one in a million,” Schneider continued. “She’s one of the students I feel so honored to have been a part of her journey, because I know she’ll go on to do great things.”
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