By Nena Thornburg
Valley Oaks Charter School Science teacher and High School Advisor 

Kiera Judkins-Irvine, 2023 Co-Valedictorian at Valley Oaks Charter School


May 27, 2023

Mary Heeb Photography.

Kiera Judkins-Irvine.

"For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all of that-I love life. But it is hard and I have so much, so very much to learn." –Sylvia Plath. This is Kiera's favorite quote and describes how she approached her life in high school. Kiera enjoys school, and loves being able work on projects, essays and presentations. As a student, she always double-checked and sought to perfect each assignment. She took great pride in doing her best and enjoying the process. Though often quiet, Kiera never shies away from engaging in important conversations with her peers.

Kiera has taken advantage of Valley Oaks Charter School's variety of class structures. While completing her high school college preparatory and advanced courses, she has been concurrently enrolled at Cerro Coso Community College where she plans to earn associate degrees in Art History and Liberal Arts and Humanities. Impressively, Kiera maintained a 4.0 GPA and made the honor roll every year since 9th grade.

With a love for photography, art and writing, Kiera also won numerous awards for drawing, photography and Chalk on the Walk from the Tehachapi Youth Art Contest. Kiera's best memories in high school are connecting with her peers, both in academics and extracurricular activities. Kiera is one of two Editor-in-Chiefs for this year's VOCS yearbook. She loved collaborating with the team to create the school yearbook. In addition, Kiera has been dancing for 14 years! She finds time to dance several hours each week on top of her heavy academic workload.

One of the most important lessons Kiera learned at Valley Oaks is to maintain focus, whether working toward getting a good grade on a quiz or planning for college. Kiera also learned how self-discipline can take you further than just being smart or knowing how to work more efficiently. Lastly, she learned how interpersonal communication is a key to success. Whether working on a group project, or navigating outside relationships, communication has been a key for Kiera to problem-solve and connect with her peers.

Kiera will attend California State University Northridge where she plans to major in criminology and criminal justice. She plans to eventually earn a masters degree and work in law enforcement to help trafficked minors. As she sets her sights on her goals after high school, Kiera is ever grateful for her family, her biggest supporters that helped her become the person that she is today.


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