Photo by Diana Gomez-Ochoa
Seven years at Eastside gave Ashley Vargas the opportunity to grow into her now confident and straightforward self.
“She can be her true self without caring what other people think,” senior Luisa Soto said. “I admire how she can just be true because honestly not everyone can do that.”
Ashley’s growth in confidence is not only seen in the classroom but also as a leader on the volleyball court, where she played in both middle school and all four years of high school, mainly in the position of hitter.
“Throughout the season, she spoke more,” teammate and senior Ashley Barriga said. “She’d always give me feedback and she was more vocal about everything.”
When deciding a topic for her final research project for Senior Research Institute, Ashley thought back to a lesson on child labor in cocoa industries taught by middle school teacher Jasmine Kelly-Pierce. Wanting to learn more about this, Ashley expanded her research and looked into labor conditions in cocoa industries for women, children and migrant workers.
Luisa quickly noticed how much Ashley enjoyed doing the research.
“I remember when she had her outline ready she would tell me about it and she would go over it,” Luisa said. “I have never seen her so passionate about a class.”
Ashley plans to continue studying how people interact with each other by majoring in Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. She hopes to pursue a career in social work.
During the pandemic, Ashley took on more responsibility at home. She got a job and also helped her younger brother academically. Ashley said she draws her motivation from her mother, who has worked many jobs to support her and her brother.
“I aspire to be like her by not giving up, working hard and always putting what you value as a priority,” Ashley said.