RUSD News June 13, 2024 Senior Spotlight Edition Part 3



Channel 4 News "Today in L.A." Story

Telemundo News Story

Sing Tao Daily Link


Channel 4 News aired several feature stories on June 7 and 8 about Nogales High School graduates who won scholarships. Stories featured Gates Scholar Juan Fregoso (Full Ride to Harvard), QuestBridge Scholars Eridaly Basave (Full Ride to Claremont McKenna College) and Mariana Lopez Ruiz (Full Ride to Pomona College). Also featured was Julian Reynoso, who received the $10,000 Cancer for College Scholarship and will be attending UCLA.


Telemundo News aired a story on June 7, 2024, about Nogales High School Valedictorian and Gates Scholar Juan Fregoso and his full-ride to Harvard.


Sing Tao Daily News on June 10, 2024 featured a story on Class of 2024 Grads: From Rowland High School Allen Li (attending Princeton), Edward Lai (attending Yale), $50,000 Edison Scholar Ruby Wu (attending Cornell), and Nogales High School grad Juan Fregoso (attending Harvard).



There is an energy that bounces off Rowland High School Raider Kaili Mendoza when you meet her. Perhaps it is the megawatt smile she shares and the vibe that this young lady is on her way to big things. At the Rowland High School Senior Awards Night, Mendoza received one of the most prestigious scholarships: the Air Force ROTC Scholarship which prepares students who are getting their bachelor’s degree to transition to be military officers in the U.S. Air Force and Space Force. Students are selected who demonstrate distinct leadership, academic and interpersonal skills that set them apart from their peers -- and a full ride to the college of their choice that they have been admitted to.

Out of 8,000 applicants with only a 10% selection rate, Kaili Mendoza was selected for the scholarship valued at more than $330,000 for 100% full tuition for all four years to any university in the country that the student is accepted to and provides them with a monthly stipend and yearly textbook allowance. Kaili Mendoza will be attending USC School of Engineering. 

Since fifth grade, Mendoza has dreamed of becoming an aerospace engineer. She was a star math student throughout elementary and middle school, but then the pandemic hit and she struggled coming back to in-person learning as a sophomore from the challenges of learning via Zoom.

“I had never failed before, and suddenly I found myself with an F in calculus. I had always been good at math, but my foundation was shook. But then, it changed my perspective. I knew what it felt like to fail.” Her counselor Mr. Elder pushed her to retake AP Calculus. “I did it. I came back and got straight A’s in all of my AP classes. I learned a whole new skill set junior year, I really learned how to study and that’s when everything changed.”

Mendoza and Celina Poon at the first MakerSpace Club event in 2022 with Kindergarten students

 from Killian Elementary.

Something she is especially proud of is founding the MakerSpace club on campus, where they held districtwide events along with a Physics Carnival and STEAM day. “I love engineering and the goal was to create an environment where anyone could explore. Our first year we invited little kids from Shelyn and Killian and had them use their creativity with hands-on activities. (Pictured above). I am an advocate for having equal access and opportunity for kids and learning and it was so great seeing how excited and fascinated kids were by science. I loved providing this experience for them.”

Mendoza is also passionate about sports. She started golfing when she was 7 years old and continued throughout high school. “I joined swimming my second semester as a sophomore and it was probably the best decision of my life. That’s where my friend group came from, and it was so different from golf. And then I joined Water Polo. When you see what they do under the water it is crazy tough!” This scholar athlete received the

It was a big year for Mendoza, being honored in sports with the Hacienda League 5 award, where the league recognizes five senior students who have exhibited an outstanding commitment to academics, athletics, and community service. She also was entered into Rowland High School's Athletic Hall of Fame for golf. Mendoza was active in campus events such as the Renaissance Dance, the Every 15 Minutes event and was even crowned Homecoming Queen!


Advice for Future Raiders: “Be ambitious. Don’t underestimate yourself. And just because you fail like 100 times, it doesn’t mean you are not going to succeed once. I’ve just succeeded that one time and I’m here now and it’s going to be ok. It’s all going to be ok.”


Julian Reynoso will be attending UCLA in the fall where he plans to study to be a veterinarian.

Imagine battling cancer TWICE and you are only a senior in high school. Nogales High School Noble Julian Reynoso fought for his life and tackled leukemia in both elementary and high school. Next he is going to tackle a little college called UCLA with help by winning the Cancer for College $10,000 scholarship. 

“This kid struggled and pushed through so many obstacles in life and persevered. He is a survivor. That’s who he is. I have loved this kid and family since he was in my Kindergarten class at Hurley,” said Heidi West, now Principal at Rorimer Elementary who has stayed in contact with Reynoso and his family through his entire journey.

Julian Reynoso pictured with Rorimer Principal Heidi West.

“I was always loud and active, involved with friends and teachers at school. But then when I was 10 years old at the end of fourth grade my whole personality changed. I just stopped eating and didn’t have any energy. I would literally fall asleep at the dinner table. My parents saw I had a yellow complexion and took me to the hospital, expecting it to be a virus.” He had to be transported to Children’s Hospital in Orange County where he was diagnosed with the blood cancer, leukemia. He endured endless chemo treatments and due to his young age, they were able to treat it successfully.

Employees from Jersey Mike’s Subs partner with Cancer for College to surprise Nogales High School Senior Julian Reynoso and family with a $10,000 scholarship.

“I would actually spend months in the hospital. I got to meet a lot of great people and my doctor was a very caring woman. My mom is amazing because she would stay with me Monday – Friday and then would go home and cook for the family on weekends. She would make hats for the pregnant nurses or bring them food and snacks. But it was so hard for my baby brother, who is four years younger. He really missed his mom.”

Reynoso made it back for middle school, but then, the pandemic struck. Like all students, he missed eighth grade promotion, saying goodbye to friends, and then came freshmen year with online learning. He was feeling great; his hair had grown back from the chemo and he even tried out for sports.

“I’ll never forget I was in the middle of class on my computer and my mother barged into my room and said, 'They found something in your blood. Your white blood cells are rising again and we need to take you back to the hospital.'”

This time it was another form of leukemia and he not only needed chemotherapy and radiation, but a bone marrow transplant. “I was lucky enough that my sister Ashley was my transplant. It was incredibly rare, we had a 99.9 compatibility. I spent my sophomore year mainly in the hospital again.”

Throughout his journey, his curiosity for science grew and he became inspired to be a doctor not for humans, but for animals. “I always asked questions and really knew my body and my medical team asked if I had considered being a doctor. Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved animals. I found out that I’m not affected by blood or gross things. I’ve had this trauma of cancer but I can still be in the field of medicine. My love for animals has focused me to be a veterinarian.

Reynoso is thrilled that dream will be coming true as he heads to UCLA, and then plans to transfer to the number one veterinarian school in America, UC Davis. He applied to the Cancer for College Scholarship and was shocked when he won.

"We at Cancer for College are deeply grateful to support Julian in his inspiring journey to become a veterinarian at UCLA. Investing in his education beyond cancer is a testament to his resilience and dedication to his dream. We believe in his potential to make a meaningful impact in the field of veterinary medicine and are honored to be a small part of his remarkable story," said Sana Moezzi, Director of Donor Impact, Cancer for College.

Cancer for College provides need-based college scholarships, educational experiences, and medical debt relief to cancer survivors. Founded by 3X cancer survivor and double-amputee, Craig Pollard with the support of his good friend and college fraternity brother Will Ferrell. As a scholarship recipient, Reynoso had the chance to meet comedian and actor Will Ferrell last week (pictured above).

Advice for Future Nobles: “Make connections. Working hard to get what you want is important, but you also need other people. I need my friends, I need my doctors, I need my family and I need the school staff. They all raised me up to be confident and make me who I am. So don’t shy away from making connections to succeed.”


For those who can't join in person, the graduation will be live streamed!

Click for the link.

Raiders Make School and District History Men's Tennis Takes Home CIF Title

On a beautiful Friday afternoon, the Rowland High School Men’s Tennis Team set off to do something never achieved in school and district history: winning the coveted CIF Tennis Championship. Team Captain, Hacienda League Doubles Co-MVP, Hacienda League Doubles Champion, and CIF Doubles Qualifier Dylan Minarto said, “From day one, our coach told us we had a chance to make history this season. We just had to work hard and believe in ourselves.” The hard work came into play as they battled magnet school Foothill Technology from Ventura.


“Right from the outset, we knew it would be a grueling battle. Neither team had come this far to back down now. Our focus was on playing our brand of tennis and not letting their distractions affect us,” articulated Head Coach Jake Magnant. The first round was a fierce contest, with Rowland taking an early 4-2 lead. “We were aware that we had to fight for every point. This match was about earning, not receiving,” reiterated Team Captain, Hacienda League Doubles Co-MVP, Hacienda League Doubles Champion and CIF Doubles Qualifier Jatin Yang who along with his doubles partner Dylan Minarto, swept all three of their championship matches.

The Rowland High School Men's Tennis Team was recognized by the Board of Education on June 3, 2024 for their historic CIF win, the first in school and District history.

The second round proved pivotal as Foothill Tech attempted a comeback. However, standout freshman Ian Minarto had what would end up being the game's biggest match, upsetting their nationally ranked singles player 7-6 (7-5). “I left everything out there. I was not going to let my team down. We had come too far to stop now,” stated Ian Minarto, who also won all three of his championship matches. This win helped move the team to a 7-4 lead, leading into the third round.


The third round continued with its intense play. “We knew we needed to close the match and not leave it to chance,” stated Hacienda League Honorable Doubles Mention and Team Captain Joshua Orbita. The Rowland Raiders took two doubles matches and one singles match to hit the ten-point mark. Thus securing the school’s and District’s first-ever CIF Tennis Championship. In the words of Dylan Minarto, “None of us will ever forget today’s match, and we will never forget the coaching staff who helped us get there.” Congratulations again to the Rowland Men’s Tennis Team for bringing home our first CIF Tennis Title!


Congratulations once again to Giano Intermediate who was named a 2024 California Distinguished School. The Board of Education recognized the school at the June 3, 2024 Board Meeting for their outstanding accomplishment that demonstrates their commitment to educational excellence.

RUSD Newsflash! RUSD Faces in New Places... Administrative Appointments



At the June 10, 2024 Board of Education Meeting Cristina Canales was appointed Assistant Principal of Rowland High School. She began her career in 2007 in Rowland Unifed as a first-grade Dual Language Immersion teacher at Hurley Elementary and then moved to Telesis Academy where she served 10 years as a middle school math and science teacher and as the school site Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). Canales has been Assistant Principal at Santana High School since 2021 where she also served as the Assistant Principal of the District's Rowland Virtual Learning Academy.

Canales is know for her ability to form strong connections with students and her tenacity in removing barriers so all students can thrive and succeed.

"I am deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve in education. I am committed to working collaboratively with the Rowland High School staff to ensure that our students across the District continue to receive an equitable and quality education that prepares them for success," said Canales.




The Board of Education has appointed Annette Martinez as Assistant Principal of Rowland High School. Annette has been apart of the RUSD family since 2005 serving students of the Rowland Community. Her first assignment was at Nogales High School where she served as a Speech Language Pathologist. She later moved in her work as a Program Specialist, Coordinator of Special Education, where she supported Rowland High School's special education department. Her most recent role has been Assistant Principal of Blandford Elementary. 

She is a champion for implementing inclusive practices so that all students feel that they are seen, heard, and empowered for a future of their choice..

"It is an honor to take this step alongside Mr. Gregory Perez and his administrative team as we look to fulfill our promise to students. To our Rowland High School commuity, I look forward to forming and strengthening new relationships with our students and staff," said Martinez.

June 13, 2024 Issue RUSD News Editor

Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  
Proud to Serve Our Communities of Rowland Heights, La Puente, Walnut & West Covina