Overcoming obstacles a driving force to success

By Jason Sykes, Staff Writer

Some people have a knack for overcoming obstacles and using life experiences as motivation to get better.

While living in the United States for only three years, Valeria Avila has wasted no time beginning her quest for success in academia and sports at Contra Costa College. 

Nineteen-year-old Avila plays middle-backer for the Comet volleyball team while also studying to become a mechanical engineer.

Avila represents the ability everyone has to thrive in almost any environment, and her determination toward success and accomplishing goals is the definition of what a student-athlete should be.

Originally from Mexico,  she enrolled at Hercules High School as a junior soon after arriving to California.

Facing culture shock, adapting to the lifestyle of the United States was a welcomed challenge. During her transition she noticed the opportunities that are provided and quickly began taking advantage of them.

“Energetic, studious and hardworking” are words Avila used to describe herself.

On the court, her enthusiasm along with her spirited play is contagious and spreads throughout the team.

“Valeria is easy to teach and she’s willing to learn,” CCC assistant volleyball coach Christy Tianero said.

She belongs to four campus organizations and clubs — serving as president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, an outreach ambassador for the Educated 4 Fair Consideration, a stem ambassador to the Adelante program which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and as a member of the ASU.

Even with such a full plate she is still able to maintain an impressive 4.0 GPA. Avila aspires to transfer to UC Berkeley or a private school when she continues her education beyond CCC.

As an active member of so many academic groups, Avila comes in contact with people from all walks of life, but she still says her biggest influences in her life are her parents

“My parents have always pushed education,” Avila said.

It’s not hard to see why she is always on top of her schoolwork and takes every opportunity she can to further her education in pursuit of achieving her goals.

Avila’s hardworking mentality does not go unrecognized. Teammate Rachelle Cuevas said, “She inspires me because she’s an athlete, student and a part of other things.”

Avila works with Spanish and English speaking families through the E4TC to discuss new legislation, financial aid, and in special circumstances she refers families to legal council.

On the court, Avila said she plans to make her final season as part of the Comet volleyball team a memorable one. Her main goal for this season is to have as much fun as possible. She said the team’s chemistry is growing from practice-to-practice.

“She’s has a positive personality and is a supportive teammate,” volleyball coach Zachary Shrieve said. He said Avila carries a positive aura around her that makes people gravitate toward her.

Beneath Avila’s infectious smile and bubbly personality hides a fierce competitor that reveals itself at gametime. Playing on a team with a short roster leaves plenty of room for high motor players to be influential at many different positions.

Juggling different responsibilities can  be an overwhelming task for the average student, but Avila is doing a good job of balancing all of her duties. Her teammates also enjoy being around her because she is an easygoing person.

First-year teammate Micaela Zaragoza-Soto said that Avila encouraged her to become more involved with the volleyball team.

Avila said that the thing she noticed most about the transition from high school volleyball to the college game is that it is more competitive and less drama-filled.

Avila is on track to achieve her academic goals, and helping others in need of support along the way is an added bonus.

The volleyball team returns to action today at Yuba College at 6 p.m.