From the day Uriel Velasquez-Leon stepped on campus, he was destined to become a strong leader.
He poured his energy into leadership, from becoming captain of the Boys soccer and volleyball teams, to serving as president of Interact Club, to rising to the role of teacher at the Boys and Girls Club.
“It’s nice to see how he went from a member to a leader in many of his extracurricular activities,” said close friend and classmate, Alondra Lopez Garcia.
Uriel’s calling is to help his community. Working at the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula (BGCP) in East Palo Alto was especially impactful. After volunteering in the summer after his sophomore year, he rapidly rose to become an influential teacher who helped motivate his students to see their true potential.
“A lot of them didn’t believe in themselves,” he said.
Uriel pushed his students to seek a better education. He introduced them to Eastside and helped them fill out applications, and convinced BGCP to invite more private high schools to school fair events.
As a BGCP teacher, Uriel took Cañada College classes on child development, prepped lessons, and taught in a class where students built things out of ordinary materials. Unexpectedly, he stepped in to sub for a teacher who was out with Covid-19 for half of the program.
His family has been a great support, including his older sister Michelle (Eastside class of 2018). Even while she was across the country at Williams College, she helped him on his Affirmative Action paper and SRI.
U.S. History teacher Cal Trembath awarded Uriel the U.S. History Excellence Award for his leadership behind a Zoom screen during the pandemic. Uriel was one of the few who asked questions in chat on Zoom, Cal said, and he was a motivational friend and a “stabilizing force” among his classmates.
Uriel will lead the way at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks this fall.