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2024 Graduate Paulina Viera Zambrano


Vintage High School Senior Paulina Viera Zambrano

Paulina Viera Zambrano’s advice for future NVUSD graduates: “Reach out for help. You will face challenges, but there are resources and people ready to support you. Enjoy your high school years—they go by fast, and the connections you make will be a big part of you.”

We are thrilled to introduce Paulina Viera Zambrano, a proud graduate of Vintage High School. Paulina’s journey is marked by her commitment to academic excellence, her passion for environmental stewardship, and her dedication to community service.

Vintage High School Counselor Cindy Johnson shares, “Paulina is not only a talented student, but someone who knows what she wants. She embodies that rare trait of determination and grace, someone other students could look up to. I feel honored to have been a part of her high school journey. We wish her nothing but the best!”

Paulina’s educational journey began with a brief period at Shearer Elementary School, followed by McPherson Elementary School, River Middle School, and finally, Vintage High School. Her involvement in the Summer Search program was a turning point, shaping her future aspirations and providing life-changing experiences. 

“The Summer Search program was life-changing for me,” Paulina explains. “My first summer experience was a backpacking trip in New Mexico, which made me appreciate nature and sparked my interest in environmental science. The following summer, I studied at Brown University, focusing on the environmental history of Rhode Island and New England. These experiences inspired my dream career in environmental architecture.” Paulina’s dedication to environmental issues led her to take AP Environmental Science, where she learned about an internship opportunity with the Napa Sierra Club. Through this internship, she engaged in community outreach, spreading awareness about climate change and environmental preservation. “We did presentations for high school and elementary school students, organized activities by the wetlands, and even worked on a project with the fire department,” Paulina shares.

Paulina’s commitment to her school community is equally impressive. She was a member of the Vintage High School Color Guard and Marching Band, earned the Seal of Biliteracy in both Spanish and French, and held an internship with the Vintage High Wellness Center. She also balanced a job at a coffee shop with her hobbies of writing and painting.

One of Paulina’s proudest achievements is receiving multiple scholarships, which covered her first year’s tuition at Cal Poly Pomona. “I received a variety of scholarships, including the Napa Valley Marathon Scholarship and the Damien Maldonado Memorial Foundation Scholarship. These scholarships relieved a significant financial burden and allowed me to focus on my studies,” she says. The impact of the 10,000 Degrees program was significant, as it connected Paulina with many of these opportunities and provided essential guidance throughout the scholarship application process.

Reflecting on her journey, Paulina credits her success to the support of her family, teachers, and counselors. “My parents gave up everything to provide me with opportunities. My teachers and counselors, especially Ms. Johnson, offered guidance and resources that made all the difference,” she expresses. Ms. Johnson referred her to the Summer Search program, which played a crucial role in shaping her path.

Paulina’s path to success was not without challenges. When she first arrived in the United States, she knew no English and faced severe bullying from both classmates and teachers. This led to feelings of isolation and despair. However, in 5th grade, she met Ms. Delgado, the first teacher to show her kindness in this new country. Ms. Delgado put her own college graduation cap and gown on Paulina, taking a picture that symbolized her belief in Paulina’s potential. This act of kindness sparked a transformation. Paulina realized the opportunities available to her and dedicated herself to her studies, which eventually led to her standing on stage as a graduation speaker.

Another significant challenge Paulina faced was burnout. Juggling numerous AP classes, extracurricular activities, Color Guard, marching band, a job, and internships took a toll on her mental health. “I put way too much pressure on myself,” she admits. “There has to be a balance between your personal well-being and your commitments.” Her advice to current students reflects this invaluable lesson: “Reach out for help and enjoy your high school years.”

We congratulate Paulina Viera Zambrano on her accomplishments and wish her all the best as she pursues a degree in Environmental Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona. Her story is a testament to her hard work, resilience, and the unwavering support of her family and educators.

Congratulations, Paulina!

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  • 02 - Middle Schools
  • Vintage High School