Harlingen School of Health Professions’ top students ‘genuinely enjoy learning’

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Jonathan Aguilar, 17, and Laisha Godinez, 18, are the 2024 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for the Harlingen School of Health Professions. (Courtesy photo)

HARLINGEN — Meet Alberto and Yolanda.

They immigrated from San Luis Potosi in Mexico 20 years ago with almost nothing and had to begin their lives anew.

Now meet their daughter Laisha Godinez, 18, who is graduating salutatorian this year from the Harlingen School of Health Professions.

“I am very proud of myself,” Laisha said. “I thank my parents and all the effort that they’ve put in to make me who I am. They didn’t have much of an education, at least not from college, and so that was one of my main goals, to pursue what they wanted but didn’t have the chance.”

Laisha and her friend Jonathan Aguilar, this year’s valedictorian from HSHP, have demonstrated their academic prowess and their intellectual talents throughout their high school years. Now they enter their college and career life with impressive credentials, and yet they show a remarkable humility about their achievements.

Just ask Jonathan.

“It’s a good experience to have, but I don’t feel any more about my classmates than before,” said Jonathan, 17. “For me it’s really just a title. I do appreciate it, but besides that I don’t really feel any different.”

Both students studied hard and worked hard to achieve success; they differed in their drives and their approaches and their motivations.

“I think really it just stems from the fact that I just genuinely enjoy learning,” Jonathan said. “I feel like not many people do it, they see it as more of a chore than anything, but I really do enjoy going to school.”

Laisha credited her parents and their support throughout her formative years. She spoke regularly of her parents and their fortitude and their perseverance.

“Family has always been a big part of it, how I do things, and how I succeed,” Laisha said. “I’m glad that they were there, to not only witness it, but also to help me succeed in the way I did.”

The Harlingen School of Health Professions is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy: Harlingen CISD)

Both felt the power of motivation throughout their studies. Different people process and retain information in ways unique to them. For some, the capacity to retain knowledge serves them well.

“A lot of the times, I don’t know how to word it, but it just came to me,” she said. “I didn’t do as much studying as everyone else, but I did put in the effort. I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t. A lot of the time, it was just on my own. At home, I do share a room with my brother because he can be annoying,” She laughed with kind humor at this reflection, and then added, “But I made it through.”

When Jonathan began a study session, he put on his headphones, turned the music up, and went into his “zone.”

“I block out everything else,” he said. “It’s just me, my music, and everything I’m studying. I really do listen to everything, country, rock, metal, indie. Classic rock is pretty cool. KISS, I also like more the new rock.”

He credits one of his teachers, Amy Sharpe, for teaching the importance of studying regularly as opposed to cramming in one night.

“She would always teach us that you want to study not all at once the night before,” he said. “You build it up over a set period of time so maybe a week. You know that the test is next week. You start before, like a week before, and you progress. It’s progressive studying.”

Jonathan has already been accepted to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland where he will study neuroscience and psychology with a minor in business.

Laisha will continue her pursuit of science, something she has enjoyed her whole life. She’ll study at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville for two years and then transfer to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to complete the biomedical program.

“I plan to work in a medical laboratory to do research,” said the daughter of immigrants from San Luis Potosi in Mexico.