Courtesy of Aaron Pina
Alumni Aaron Pina has not stopped being actively involved in their community and school even after graduation.
At Valley, Pina was involved in a multitude of clubs and organizations such as Key Club, National Honor Society, IB Council, Valley Viking Scholars, and Relay for Life. Pina attributes growing to be their truest self to the people and communities they met through their involvement in these organizations.
“My time at Valley provided me the opportunity to grow out of my comfort zone and develop myself into the individual I am today,” Pina said. “Being that there is so much transition and self exploration for someone in high school, especially for me being a Queer and Latinx individual trying to grow into my identity, Valley really encouraged me to do, be, and become more.”
Their experience at Valley has followed them to the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) where they are a first generation student triple majoring in psychology, journalism with an emphasis in visual communications, and gender, race, and identity (GRI). At UNR, they work on campus as a social media manager for UNR’s Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN) and the Center for Student Engagement called iLeadNevada. They have also taken on a variety of leadership roles inside and outside of UNR.
“Outside of school, I’ve also been very active in community organizing, especially with the past Presidential Election, and the importance of the Black Lives Matter Movement,” Pina said. “I currently am also involved with the Northern Nevada Pride, which is looking different this year, but I am sure will be so important for the queer community in Northern Nevada…. This also leads to what I see is a new project in the politics of the City of Reno, where I am excited to work with the Mayor of Reno to implement student advisories to the City of Reno City Council – so be on the lookout for that!”
Pina’s drive to be involved stems from their motivation to make an impact on someone’s life. They find value in making the most that they can out of UNR, taking every opportunity that comes their way.
“I know that to do that I have to make the most out of my experience at the university, and this will allow me to take on the challenge each day,” Pina said. “I also think just having a drive and passion for the things you do, truly allow you to be happy and explore the opportunities that are out there, to truly allow yourself to have a life that is fulfilling.”
Along with being motivated to make an impact, Pina is heavily driven by the people around in their life.
“I think my parents have been so supportive in everything that I have put my mind to, which is so appreciated and something not a lot of people have, so I cherish that,” Pina said. “I also have to thank the amazing mentors I’ve had in my life including teachers from past and present who have always supported and encouraged me, but also the amazing friends that I have in my life who challenge me to do better and be better. Finally, I think I also take a lot of motivation and inspiration from the world.”
Pina heavily values the time they had at Valley, expressing how beneficial it was to have easy access to resources based around student achievement and the support they received from teachers and counselors such as Diana Stater, Andrew Magness, Brooke Wheatley, Jamie Tadrzynski, Trisa Swenson, Jebette Caterina, Jason Delgado, Yvonne Baker, Ben Feinstein, Kelly Pedrick, Dan O’Brien, Lenore Porter, Jeanne Ruth, Amy Addante, and Jericho Tomeo.
“What I remember most about Valley were the experiences, relationships, and opportunities that were provided to me,” Pina said. “The opportunities and support provided by Valley (albeit provided by the various programs and sponsors present at Valley) is unique in so many ways, which I think we as students don’t wholly grasp while attending, but after attending definitely benefit from at the end of the day. Specifically, I recount the amount of support for College Attendance, resources for standardized testing (even though I think it does not accurately represent success nor ability), and in general resources and opportunities focusing on student success that will prove to be so important in the future.”