Students Take Innovative Steps to Pursue Their Dreams

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Sam Veytser

“It pretty much becomes me and when I meet [new] people, it’s what I say, ‘I’m a ballroom dancer.’”

Sophomore Sam Veytser has been ballroom dancing for as long as he can remember. Although he was pushed into the activity as a child, Sam has grown to love the hobby over the years, as he considers ballroom dancing a vital part of his personality.

“I’d definitely be a lot less confident [without ballroom dancing]. I can’t even begin to imagine it,” Sam said. “Without it, I just wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Practicing more that five hours a week, Sam feels that his passion for dancing teaches him many important lessons and values that he gained from hours of practice.

“It taught me patience because it requires a lot of practice and hours upon hours in the studio working day and night,” Sam said. “It also taught me the importance of hard work because after all the hours and patience and perseverance, I got to see the result of what I was doing, and that was like a trophy or a medal.”

While he acknowledges dancing to be a major milestone of his growth, Sam doesn’t see himself making a career out of the long-loved hobby.

“I feel like this is something that I might not pursue professionally,” Sam said. “It’s something I love and it’s very enjoyable, but it’s not something I see myself making a career out of.”

Ultimately, Sam sees ballroom dancing as a key aspect part of his life which he will continue to enjoy for many benefits.

“It gives me a productive way, a productive place, to express myself and to incorporate art and culture into my life,” Sam said.

 

Javin Pombra

Many of us have trouble finishing our homework on time. Sophomore Javin Pombra not only finishes his homework, but successfully juggles his schoolwork, multiple extracurriculars and his internship at an ed-tech company.

“It’s definitely a unique experience and taught me getting a job isn’t all that fun,” Javin said. “Sometimes it really is just boring tasks and copying and pasting and fixing bugs.”

Javin applied to join the company when he was fourteen through the email former College and Career center coordinator, Dawn Allen, sent to students. He applied on an online two part questionnaire, and a follow-up in-office interview to obtain the job. Being the only high school student working there does not unnerve him, it only makes him more excited.

I got hired through email and at that time, I was a freshman barely into my first semester and it was without a doubt a great feeling,” Javin said. “All that time put in on applications and interviews culminated to such a great outcome because once you realize you achieved something through your own hard work, you feel so much more proud of your own achievement.”

Sokikom is an ed-tech startup company that provides classroom management and math learning games technology to elementary schools, and also sells programs to different schools throughout the year. At his job, Javin’s work consists of a large variety of tasks. He tests new products and features in games, fixes bugs, creates school clusters and PDFs about common core, and does the sales map. He color codes it for the company’s sales team who look for potential buyers.

“I think my favorite task lies in the marketing aspect of my job which is creating a sales map and analyzing it to help determine what schools the sales team should be interested in pitching the product to,” Javin said. “Not only has this exposed me to the very complicated, but necessary field of marketing, but it also has opened up my eyes to how a team can collaborate to get to an awesome end result.”

One of the traditions at Sokikom was celebrating a worker’s birthday by throwing rubber ninja darts at them.

“Any job in the technology industry is bound to arduous at times,” Javin said. “However, fun traditions always took away from that. One activity we would always do on birthdays was very odd, but very satisfying. The person whose birthday it was would stand on the opposite side of the room, while others got three chances to shoot rubber ninja stars at them. While I might have been good at creating a sales map, that talent definitely did not translate to realm of flinging rubber stars.”

Javin works at Sokikom two to three days a week for two to three hours. Although he is paid the minimum wage for Los Altos, ten dollars per hour, he appreciates the experience and real-world perspective it brings him.

“[To me], education has always been something interesting. For example that’s why I [created the club] Teen Tutors because I do enjoy educating and teaching people. Sokikom kind of builds off that because it is an education platform.”

Although Javin enjoys education platforms, mathematics,and coding, what he got most out of it was the valuable experience from working at Sokikom.

“I don’t know if I see myself in a computer-science field in the future but it definitely like any first job always gives you that experience because as a fourteen year old not many fourteen year olds have jobs,” Javin said.

 

Jaclyn Saik

It takes guts to pursue an art major or career. Guts, determination and passion. Junior Jaclyn Saik is already putting her talent for art into action.

“Recently I’ve become more interested in digital art and graphic design because I think that’s my best shot at a career path,” Jaclyn said.

Jaclyn has already contributed to the community with her art by creating two Snapchat geotags for Los Altos and Los Altos High School. She also has worked as a marketing intern at Until There’s A Cure, an AIDS charity, over the summer.

“Until There’s A Cure partners with [a] California lab that is working to find a cure for the [HIV] virus,” Jaclyn said. “I made infographics that talked about the impact of the HIV virus on the world and designed logos and other stuff for promotional material.”

For her internship application, she created a portfolio of her art and compiled her best pieces.

“That was one of the first times I had to make a portfolio, which was kind of fun and exciting because… I kinda got to see what I could do all in one folder,” Jaclyn said. “Looking through it and [thinking] wow this is what I can do and sometimes you see and you compare yourself to other people and don’t feel as good about it, but since then my portfolio’s grown a lot and I think that’s achievement.”

Jaclyn is also able to use her artistic talent in a business setting. As a club member in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), she plans to compete in a new event this year, Publication Design, in which she will have to design a brochure, logo and publication materials for a made-up company.

Like all artists, she does feel stuck at times, but Jaclyn draws her inspiration daily from her peers in her AP Studio Art class.

“There’s actually a lot of artists at Los Altos High and being in an art class… with all them, being surrounded by other people who are making art is inspiring,” Jaclyn said.

Although art is something Jaclyn definitely enjoys and spends time on, her career path is not quite clear to her yet.

“It’s a competitive field, and I have to know that going into it,” Jaclyn said. “I am considering going into Product Design or Industrial Engineering, something that combines design with practical application.”

However, she has felt the impact of art and its influence throughout her life and her personality, which is what leads her to consider a career in art.

“I draw on everything, it gets really annoying,” Jaclyn said. “But in a more serious sense, I like to consider the impact of art and design [in] my everyday life, and I think that is the starting point for me to make a career out of it.”