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Preuss Graduates Reach for the Stars


  • Phoebe Skok

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  • Phoebe Skok

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Preuss School Class of 2022.

Ninety-six percent of The Preuss School Class of 2022 seniors have been accepted to a four-year university, and all will be the first in their family to graduate from college. Photo by Erik Jepsen/University Communications.

America Marin never imagined that she could be the valedictorian of her class at The Preuss School UC San Diego, let alone be accepted into Brown University, her dream school. When she came to The Preuss School in sixth grade, Marin was taken by surprise by how quickly and deeply she fell in love with academics. “If I didn’t take the classes that I was offered and build close relationships with the staff, faculty and community, I wouldn’t know where I would want to go in the future.”

Marin is one of the 116 students in Preuss’ Class of 2022, where 96% of the senior class was admitted to a four-year college. In addition, 45 students were accepted to UC San Diego, many of whom will matriculate in the fall. The hardworking students—who reached for the stars and will all be the first in their family to graduate from college—will join the ranks of scholars at elite institutions like UCLA, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, UC Berkeley and University of Southern California.

Graduates will be honored at an in-person Commencement ceremony on June 16 at Manchester Field on The Preuss School campus. Students may invite two guests to attend. For those who would like to attend remotely, the event will also be livestreamed. The ceremony will feature a keynote address by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and, for the first time, Preuss underclass students are invited to attend.

A springboard to success

From day one, students at The Preuss School are taught and reminded that they can reach their highest potential, pursue higher education and achieve their career goals. The charter middle and high school on the university campus enrolls first-generation and low-income students from across San Diego County and aims to prepare them to succeed in all their future endeavors.

Preuss School graduates.

From the first day they arrive, scholars are affirmed that they will attend college, and gain skills and knowledge through a unique preparatory class throughout their seven-year tenure at the school. Photo by Erik Jepsen, University Communications.

This spring, the Preuss School was again named the #1 high school in San Diego County by U.S. News and World Report in the 2022 edition of their “Best High Schools” report. The school was also ranked 5th in California out of over 2,500 schools and 71st in the nation among nearly 18,000 public high schools.

The award stems from The Preuss School’s clear commitment to providing quality education, support and community through its college-bound culture, mentorship opportunities and rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Through volunteer work, internships, academic partnerships and program sponsorships, scholars form strong connections with the San Diego community while still in middle and high school. And, due to longer school days and a longer school year, Preuss students receive the equivalent of an extra academic year upon completion of their middle and high school careers.

At The Preuss School UC San Diego we have the awesome opportunity to cultivate the genius that lies within each of our scholars,” said Executive Director Helen V. Griffith. "As we provide a rigorous academic experience and the roadmap to college and career, our love and support will allow us to see the next generation of changemakers. I’m beyond proud to celebrate the success of our phenomenal scholars.

Stories from The Preuss School’s Class of 2022

This year’s graduates have grand ambitions, from helping to expand mental health resources to creating policy that protects human rights and spark a technology start-up company. As they approach the next step in their academic career, graduates reflect on what they gained from The Preuss School and their excitement about beginning college.

America Marin.

America Marin

Future attorney and The Preuss School’s Class of 2022 valedictorian America Marin is off to Brown University in the fall to pursue political science and international relations before law school. Applying law and policy to protect human rights intrigues her, and Marin is captivated by American history and the intricacies of the government system.

“I enjoy the tight knit community we have at the Preuss School, and the relationships we get to build from 6th grade to senior year with peers and teachers,” Marin shared. “I’m proud of my peers and how far we have gone together in this beautiful chapter of our lives.”

Nhu Nguyen.

Nhu Nguyen

Nhu Nguyen is excited to begin a mechanical engineering degree at UC San Diego in the fall. She plans to pursue a career as a mechanical engineer upon graduation because of the joy and passion sparked by the field. Despite knowing that ending this chapter of her life will be difficult, Nguyen looks forward to seeing what the next four years have in store for her.

“My favorite thing about The Preuss School is its advisory and support system,” Nguyen said. “I am able to rely on my teachers for a sense of comfort in an intense educational environment. The advisory system and our counselors really helped me prepare for college.”

Rene Garcia Elejorde.

Rene Garcia Elejorde

Rene Garcia Elejorde plans to become a physical therapist someday. He will attend UC San Diego as a human biology major, which he hopes will jump-start his journey into the healthcare field. Even though leaving Preuss makes him sad, Garcia Elejorde looks forward to graduating alongside his peers.

“Preuss has helped me meet a lot of people and has expanded my knowledge more than any other school would,” Garcia Elejorde explained. “I enjoyed the small school because it made me more connected and prepared me for college.”

Alexia Melendez Bustos.

Alexia Melendez Bustos

Graduation feels bittersweet for Alexia Melendez Bustos. She’s excited to jump into life at UC San Diego as a human biology major and start her journey to become a physician’s assistant, but she also will miss the close bonds she’s formed and the support she found at Preuss.

“I've been at Preuss since the 6th grade, so I've built friendships with both the staff and students that I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of yet,” Melendez Bustos shared. “Although it is a bit sad to think of leaving the Preuss community behind, I am also very excited about graduating since I'll be the first in my family to graduate from high school and move on to a four-year university.”

Meliya Russom.

Meliya Russom

Meliya Russom cannot wait to begin her college journey at UCLA. She is sure that the friendships, intriguing classes and high-energy sports games that await her in Los Angeles will make leaving San Diego and The Preuss School just a little easier. And the future human biology major is eager to dive into learning more about herself and her career goals.

“My favorite part about The Preuss School is my advisory class because I have been with those students since 6th grade and we have grown up together and supported each other throughout the years,” Russom said. “I think it's amazing that we all are supporting each other to walk across the graduation stage.”

Christine Doan.

Christine Doan

This fall, Christine Doan will be attending UC Berkeley and double majoring in psychology and business. Doan has big dreams of expanding access to mental health resources for those who are financially disadvantaged as well as bridging cultural gaps between immigrant parents and their children in regards to mental health.

“I enjoyed the opportunities that were given to me by the Preuss School and the support system that I had by my side every step of the way,” Doan shared. “The boundless friendships and mentors that I had helped to encourage me when I was lacking motivation. I’m excited to begin my next chapter, but I will never forget the generosity and compassion I found at Preuss.”

Cristian Garcia Molina.

Cristian Garcia Molina

Cristian Garcia Molina isn’t going far from the Preuss School—he will join the UC San Diego community this fall as a political science major, with dreams of holding a government office someday. He’s nervous about starting a new phase in his life, but proud of everything he’s accomplished this year.

“What I enjoyed most about Preuss is its mission and commitment to giving kids from low-income families the education and skills needed to get into and succeed at four-year universities,” Molina said. “This is what’s made Preuss one of the top schools in San Diego, and I’m proud of being a student here.”

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