Seniors with the top grades at Oceana High School remember their high school days filled with challenging classes, senior exhibitions and extracurricular activities.
Oceana co-valedictorian Cameron Brown will major in physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He has an appreciation for math and other abstract subjects, he said. He earned a full scholarship at Berkeley, making it an easy choice. He credits Oceana for helping him find the right academic path.
“Teachers were always engaging and encouraging in math development. I had a strong support system who encouraged me to put in my best effort,” he said.
Take classes you enjoy, then it will be easier to do well, he said.
“I was inspired and in a good mental state to do my work. I liked a lot of math classes and physics,” he said.
This Pacifica resident completed his senior exhibition asking whether the federal government should subsidize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and concluded it should.
“They give you a credit card for low-income families,” he said. “It was helping families and kids.”
Freshman and sophomore years, he served on student government.
“I came from a low-income background. I was proud of the way I fit in and I was in a position where I was supporting other students to get their best outcomes. I wanted to prove it to myself, being low-income,” he said.
Junior and senior years, he ran track and cross-country.
He described the last year under COVID-19 restrictions with one word: “Weird.”
“Normally, I’d get outside and spend time with friends. I’ve been watching a lot of TV,” he said.
Co-valedictorian Nhoelle Rocero will also attend UC Berkeley. She chose it for the rigorous academics and clubs.
“I want to have a challenge after high school,” she said. “The teachers at Oceana made science very interesting. I knew I wanted to pursue that.”
This San Francisco resident will major in biology. She recently took a precollege medical program through a national online platform. She wants to become an oncologist to help her family members and others affected by leukemia. Five people in her family have had leukemia. Her mom recovered from it, but the family worries about a cousin being treated right now.
“The leukemia gene runs in my family. I was so affected by that illness, I wanted to dedicate my life to those who suffered from it,” she said. “We are always on edge about that.”
She did her senior exhibition asking if Planned Parenthood should be federally funded and concluded it should.
“It helps a lot of families who are underserved. It helps the economy, as well,” she said.
She served as vice president and co-president of the Red Cross Club, was class treasurer two years and Associated Student Body treasurer one year.
“That taught me a lot about meetings. I used to be shy. It pushed me to get over my fear of public speaking,” she said.
She describes herself as direct and hardworking. She volunteered at a middle school and helped tutor middle school students. She held a job at Red Cross. She started a badminton club at school so Oceana would have a team.
Co-valedictorian Jessica Zhao will also attend Berkeley in the fall, studying engineering, mathematics and statistics.
“I had some amazing science teachers. I’ve enjoyed my classes because of them,” she said. “I will learn more about everything before settling on a career path.”
She completed her senior exhibition on whether the U.S. should devalue the dollar. She concluded, although supporters of devaluation have good arguments to help workers and benefit businesses, especially manufacturing, that the U.S. should not devalue the dollar. She argued that the consequences of inflation, lowered wages and decreased trade outweigh the benefits.
She volunteered with Red Cross and belonged to the Red Cross Club at school. She swam on Oceana’s swim team for three years and served on the student advisory council.
She hopes she will be remembered for the conversations she had and as a nice person.
“I was a good friend who cared about them,” she said.
Co-salutatorian Vickie Feng is going to the University of California, San Diego, as an applied mathematics major.
“I don’t know yet what I will do in my career but I know I want to explore my interests, especially in the area of math,” she said.
She said Oceana prepared her for college by teaching her to be a critical, self-directed learner because of the many projects requiring research and analysis from various perspectives. That made her always open to learning, reflecting and advocating for causes about which she is passionate.
She picked her senior exhibition topic to explore school-based mental health services and concluded the federal government should provide money for mental health services and make mental health research more of a priority. She chose the topic right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when she was hearing a lot about hate and prejudice against the Asian American community.
“I wanted to take a look at how it affected mental health,” she said. “I explored how early prevention of mental health illnesses from a young age in school can be done.”
The Colma resident practices Taekwondo, plays the piano and likes to go on family hikes and to the beach.
Oceana High School co-salutatorian Danielle Rozenblyum of Pacifica will attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, and study pharmacology. She chose the school for its high academic standards, especially in pharmacology, and its beautiful beach location.
She became interested in pharmacology through family friends who are pharmacists.
“I am an extremely empathetic person and will always be there for anyone who needs me. I enjoy helping people and that is one of the reasons I would like to be a pharmacist,” she said.
Taking advanced placement chemistry and biology at Oceana sealed her interest. She credited her advanced placement chemistry teacher for doing a great job making online labs classes interesting during COVID-19.
“I learned a lot,” she said.
She researched and presented her senior exhibition on factory farming for animals in the U.S. asking, “Should factory farms be banned?” She concluded all animal farming in which animals are kept indoors in cages should be banned.
Her freshman and sophomore years, she joined the mock trial team. In her junior and senior years, she served as assistant to the student activities director on the associated student body board.
To fulfill her Oceana community service hours, she volunteered at Ingrid B. Lacy Middle School and at a pharmacy. She is now employed at a pharmacy.
She described herself as a hard worker.
“I am determined. I can do anything I set my mind to,” she said.