Sweet Summer Dreams Salinas graduating high schoolers take a break from school to work or explore what life has to offer


By Karen Dorantes 

For many graduating high school seniors, their summer after high school is one for great opportunities, but also full of questions.

Some spend it working, enjoying their time with friends and family, or simply sleeping until midday, then waking up to contemplate what life will be like now that they will not return to their high school.

In order to better understand this period of adolescents’ lives and to uncover what local graduates are up to, I asked local graduates what they have been doing these past two months.

Harry Ordiano

When Harry Ordiano is not working at his family’s party supply business, he explores the beauty of Salinas via the eight-mile runs he takes with friends.

“When I look back on this summer, that is what I would like to remember, my runs and my friends,” he said.

Ordiano is a graduate of Alisal High School who plans to continue his education in wildlife, fish, and conservation biology at University of California Davis in the fall. “I am excited, but it is always nerve-wracking to be entering a new atmosphere, but I am lucky that most of my friends landed there or are going to schools close by,” Ordiano said.

This summer, he aspires to not only maintain the relationships he has with his friends and family, but also to just spend time with his pets before he begins his new journey in college.

Genisis Mojica

Genisis Mojica sees this summer as one with new beginnings, where she can enjoy her newfound freedom from school and celebrate the growth of her small enterprise. Mojica is a graduate of Rancho San Juan High School who plans to study business at Hartnell College. Her interest in business began when she started her own photography studio, Kultura Productions.

“Eventually I started falling in love with photography; it took a route that I never thought it would, and I planned to take it seriously this summer,” Mojica said. “Now I am out here trying to promote my business.”

While she plans to continue socializing with friends, Mojica has been promoting her enterprise by attending car shows and handing out business cards.

“I am really excited for the car show at the end of the month, because that is the target audience for my photography page and it is one of the biggest in the county.” Mojica said, “So I am ready to show out with my cards and T-shirts to gain support for my business.”

Nayely Muratalla

This summer, Nayely Muratalla has been dedicated to building healthy habits and hobbies that she would like to continue during her time in college. Muratalla is a graduate of Rancho San Juan High School who will be attending the University of California Irvine to study film and media.

“Right now, I am really enjoying knitting, reading, working out, training with my past track team, and my usual working of mixed media arts,” Muratalla said. When she is not exploring the boundaries of her creativity, Muratalla is exploring what her life may be like during college.

“This month I visited UC Irvine to enroll in classes and meet peers in the Honors Collegium,” she said. “I also applied (for an) internship at Dreamworks to get experience in (the) entertainment industry.”

Adrian Gonzalez

Adrian Gonzalez is a graduate of Rancho San Juan High School who plans to study engineering at Harvey Mudd College. When talking about the anxiety of going off to college, Gonzalez said, “I see this as my contribution to the Latino community, as my way of inspiring young boys to see themselves as engineers too.”

He is prepared for the new experiences and opportunities that attending college will provide him, he said. However, having to perform at the caliber that Mudd is known for is still somewhat daunting for him. To help pay for tuition, personal expenses, and simply his survival at Harvey Mudd, Gonzalez has dedicated his entire summer to working at a food packaging facility.

Although he will be spending less time with friends, for Gonzalez, it is a sacrifice worth making. “When I look back on this summer, I hope to remember the sacrifice I made of having to work all of the summer and be at a point where I can say, ‘Wow, thank God I did that because now I am where I wanted to be.’”

Rodrigo Jara

Rodrigo Jara is a graduate of Everett Alvarez High School who plans on pursuing political science at the University of Pennsylvania on a pre-law track.

“At first I was very scared to not only leave the state, but leave across the country, but I feel like I have gotten over that because I have reassured myself that I will be fine wherever I am,” Jara said. “Right now, I am feeling more excited because I will have new beginnings, new starts, new opportunities.”

Jara has been living this summer with no plans and simply enjoying the culminating moments he will have in Salinas with friends and family. Before he heads off to the East Coast, he hopes to be at peace with himself and his friends just so he can recognize that going far will be okay.

“I hope to remember all of the smiles, all of the good times, all of the conversations, and all of the people that were with me not only this summer, but all of my life here,” Jara said. “New friends and old friends, I want to recall my last moments here as the happiest.”

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About Karen Dorantes

Karen Dorantes recently graduated from Rancho San Juan High School in Salinas and will attend Yale in the fall. This is her third summer with the Young Voices journalism project.