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Victoria West salutatorian credits God, parents as motivators (Video)

By Carolina Astrain
May 29, 2013 at 12:29 a.m.

Andrea De Los Santos rides her bike in her salutatorian graduation gown in her neighborhood. De Los Santos was named salutatorian of Victoria West High School.

Meet the salutatorian

• Name: Andrea De Los Santos

• Age: 17

• Class ranking: Salutatorian

• GPA (weighted based on courses taken): 100.32

• College attending: Baylor University

• Declared major: Physical therapy

Hobbies: Singing, dancing, biking

• Parents: Kim and Greg De Los Santos

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Victoria West High School Graduation

• WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

• WHERE: Memorial Stadium, 3001 Miori Lane

• COST: Free

awards and honors

• Salutatorian

• Integrity Award

• Discipline Award

• Legacy of the Year (second grade)

• VISD Excellence Award (sixth grade)

• Student Scholar Award

• Red Cord Recipient (seven-time blood donor)

• Social Studies Student of the Year

• Baylor President's Gold Scholarship ($54,000)

•  Ineos Future Leaders Scholarship ($750)

• L.C. Middleton Memorial Scholarship ($500)

• Holy Family Knights of Columbus Scholarship ($500)

Source: Andrea De Los Santos

Andrea De Los Santos, 17, remembers feeling jittery on her first day at the Memorial High School freshman campus.

"I had heard so many scary stories," De Los Santos said. "I was so nervous."

She and her freshman classmates were later split between the two new high schools - Victoria East High School and Victoria West High School - at the beginning of their sophomore year.

"We were the ones that really started this school," De Los Santos said, admiring the newly added photo collage in the West High School library. "I feel so at home here."

The West salutatorian will give a commencement speech to several of the remaining former Memorial High School students Saturday.

Also as part of her commencement speech, De Los Santos said she plans to talk about the strength found in imperfection.

"I used to be someone who held everyone and everything around me at a very high standard," she said.

"But somewhere along the way, I realized people make mistakes."

Throughout her high school career, she was a member of several leadership organizations and decided against graduating early to get the full high school experience, said De Los Santos.

"I didn't want to rush anything," she said.

The soon-to-be Baylor University freshman said she plans to take between 12 to 15 hours at a time to keep from being overwhelmed.

She plans to study physical therapy. She suffered a fractured growth plate in her hip during her sophomore year in high school, That experience inspired her to choose her career path.

"I just like that it's a really hands-on job," De Los Santos said. "I hope to open my own physical therapy office some day."

De Los Santos credits God and her parents as her greatest academic motivators.

Baylor was the sole university she said she applied to.

"Somehow, I just knew I would get into Baylor," De Los Santos said. "It was on the top of my list."

Her journey to becoming class salutatorian began as a freshman at Memorial when she asked her counselor what she needed to do to become a top-ranking student.

"I've missed so many nights of sleep, but now I see it was all well worth it," she said. "When I found out I was going to be class salutatorian, I started crying; I was so happy."

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