Izabella Valdez - Missouri Interview by Inspiring Teens Nominated by Nicole Riek Photography by Infinite Smiles Photography Issue 40 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Leadership comes natural to Izabella Valdez because when she sees others struggle, she is driven to take action. She wants to help others out any possible way that she can. She also believes that serving as a mentor or guide to others, who may not see their full potential, not only benefits the individual but also the community as a whole. Izabella demonstrates her leadership through kindness that can be seen in her interactions throughout her academics (NHS, A+, Dual Credit, AP & Honors courses), work environment (Sonic), athletics (Varsity Cheerleader, Varsity Softball & Varsity) Basketball) and within her peer group. She truly is a beauty soul both inside and out!
What sports do you play currently and how have they helped you through the pandemic? The pandemic has altered many aspects of our school year. Thankfully, I was able to finish a season of Varsity Football Cheer and Varsity Softball to maintain a sense of normalcy during these uncertain times. As another season of sports begins, Varsity Basketball is helping me stay motivated and focused on my goals to finish my senior year strong and healthy both physically and mentally. Without sports, as coursework has been optional this year, I believe my drive may have become depleted. Athletics not only has helped me stay engaged in school but is a lifeboat for my mental health.
What motivates you to succeed? My basketball coach, Mrs. Stambursky, taught me a very important lesson about teamwork. Everytime we went to the baseline she would say, “Look to your right. Look to your left. You will make it in time for her, for your teammates.” Each time we would line up I would turn to my teammates and say “I’m doing this for you.” I didn’t just make it to the line for myself, I made it for them. Your mistakes were everyone’s mistakes. It became bigger than yourself as you propelled your teammates to push boundaries with you. My teammates were the driving factor of my motivation and success.
What is an example of how your actions have affected others? I was granted the opportunity to tutor a kindergarten class at Ridgeview and have continued to help my assigned class beyond my tutoring. I created numerous connections that I am extremely grateful for. Due to these connections, the para-teacher opened up about her experiences within her position and my supervising teacher invited me into her home to babysit. Beyond my connections with the staff, my most valued interaction was the one I made with my kindergarteners, as I was part of their growth academically and it truly made my experience a cherishable one.
What are your beliefs towards inclusion and love? How can positivity alter your state of mind? I live by the simple saying of ”If you don't have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” Every word, every action has a positive or negative cause and effect. Individual’s energy spreads like rapid fire and feeds off each other. It is harder to bring people up once they have been knocked down through negativity. I strive to be the positive reinforcement that attracts others. I choose to focus on altering environments through my positive interactions and intentions. Positivity can be the one small shift needed to stop an endless cycle of toxicity.
What are your struggles and challenges and how did you overcome them/are overcoming them? I broke my ankle in April of my Freshman year and had to sit out of many opportunities with sports. I experienced depression as I envied others' ability to workout and condition. The constant feeling of not meeting expectations tore me apart. It wasn’t until I stopped throwing a pity party for myself and persevered through the pain, that I saw a dramatic difference. I never missed a day of therapy and pushed through hours of extensive at-home exercises. This determination enabled me to walk before I was intended to and ultimately paved the way towards my comeback in athletics.
What are your aspirations and future goals? I am extremely curious about the inner workings of the human brain and therefore my aspirations are to be a neuroscientist. To alter someone's life for the better in all aspects is what motivates me to pursue my professional dreams in this area. A personal goal of mine is to be a positive influencer towards helping others become present in all that life has to offer. Being mindful not only ensures that a single second is not missed but creates appreciation so that nothing is taken for granted as we are only granted one life to live.
Look for Izabella in issue 40 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!