Top Harlingen Cardinals say God, family and discipline contributed to success

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From left, Naomi Macmanus, valedictorian, and Briana Cavazos, salutatorian. (Courtesy: Harlingen CISD)

HARLINGEN — Very accomplished.

That’s how Naomi Macmanus and Briana Cavazos both described their success as top students at Harlingen High School.

“It feels very rewarding knowing that all my four years of hard work have paid off,” said Naomi, 18, valedictorian of the Harlingen High School class of 2024.

In the not-so-distant past, 18-year-old Briana never imagined making it to salutatorian.

“It feels very accomplishing to just see myself at this point in time,” she said. “My parents didn’t go to college, so I am a first generation student. Being able to be a first generation student and a woman who is going to pursue a STEM major or a STEM career, it’s just very accomplishing. Years ago I could never picture myself in this point in time.”

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Naomi has a very different story.

“It has been in my family to be number one and number two, so it’s nostalgic that I’m able to accomplish the same thing as my siblings so we all have that in common,” she said.

All four of her brothers and sisters have made either valedictorian or salutatorian. There’s obviously a winning formula to their process.

What is it?

“My parents instilled in us the essence of discipline,” Naomi said. “They’ve kept using that sense of discipline with us through our faith and also through our school and all our activities.”

The support at home also included family dinners every evening where everyone would gather and converse while enjoying their meal.

“We would never have the TV on,” she said. “We would always do nightly praise and each one of us was treated with a sense of family connection which allowed us to grow a lot closer.”

Briana also had good family support.

“I give special thanks to God and my family support systems at home and on campus and in the community,” she said. “They never gave up on me and never let me give up on myself. They always picked me back up when I would fall.”

Naomi Macmanus, valedictorian, and Briana Cavazos, salutatorian. (Courtesy: Harlingen CISD/Facebook)

Briana plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and major in chemical engineering with a minor in project management.

“I did have a lot of inspiration from two of my cousins who are also pursuing STEM careers, and one is a mechanical engineer,” she said. “They have really inspired me to just be the person I am today.”

Both women expressed a strong faith in God.

“I think one of the things I did was keep my faith in God and knowing that he has a plan for my life and just saying yes to Him all the time,” she said. “I also prioritized school work and projects and different things like that over going out with my friends and having to make sacrifices in the moment.”

That, she conceded, was “disheartening” at times.

But …

“It’s gotten me to where I am now and it’s opened a world of opportunities for me,” Briana said.

Naomi plans on attending Texas A&M University in College Station and major in biology to pursue the optometry profession.

“I’d like to thank my parents and my family for always pushing me and telling me never to give up or give less than my best,” she said. “I also want to give thanks to my teachers who always gave everything they had and everything they did for me.”