SOLEDAD — Soledad High School will graduate one of its own a year early as student Abril Alcala will have completed her high school courses at the end of the 2018-19 school year.
It was a complete surprise to Alcala, whose parents were slightly sad as well to hear the news of the early graduation. Alcala went into her freshmen year of high school with a plan. She was going to prepare with four years of high school and try to complete two years of college at the same time.
“By the time I graduate I would have a least had my AA in college and my high school diploma,” Alcala said. “From there, going to a UC and graduate from there in a year and a half, maybe two.”
Alcala, 16, has been taking Hartnell courses along with her high school course load since her freshmen year, leading to her having completed her first year of college.
“It was not part of the plan,” she said. “I didn’t know I was in the position of graduating early until a week before school started this year.”
Alcala has a sense of pride for what she accomplished through hard work, but at the same time she is wondering what her future will look like now.
Her plan was always to attend the University of California Santa Cruz because she loves the campus with the forest, beach and its beauty. Alcala also looked at the University of California Los Angeles, which has law school as part of its school offerings, so it became her top school.
In the past few months Alcala became more interested in the law because of a problem that arose when she was trying to get a job. She has a passion for swimming and being around children and wanted to become a swim instructor. But, her legal trouble led to her not getting hired.
“I tried my hardest and didn’t give up,” she said. “I talked to Jimmy Panetta and talked to some of his other helpers in the office. I also spoke to another lawyer in Watsonville and I tried to get a lot of help from them.”
The experience led to Alcala’s interest in becoming an immigration lawyer with some LGBTQ rights as well.
“In this area there are a lot of immigrants that I hope to help one day,” Alcala said.
At school, Alcala — who would normally be a junior this year — has received some questions from seniors who she is in class with now. She has been answering questions from her classmates on how she is able to graduate an entire year early.
“Some freshmen and sophomores now will ask me about graduating and I tell them about it,” Alcala said. “I just see that little spark and they start thinking about it. I love that, I love being able to talk to other people and help them think of different ways to move faster in their life.”
Alcala has taken a lot of Honors and AP classes to bring her to this point and says that she may be smart, but it is more about working harder.