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

Nicholas Aldava, 2023 Co-Valedictorian at Valley Oaks Charter School

 

May 27, 2023

Todd Thorpe.

Nicholas Aldava.

"You can do this." This was Nicholas Aldava's answer when asked for his favorite quote, a line stated at the beginning of the game Celeste, a quote that describes his approach to life. Nick has attended Valley Oaks Charter School for 10 years. With a zest for learning, Nick loves music, science, robotics, gaming, digital design and has participated in Open Mic nights and the Talent Show playing his own music. In high school, Nick raised the bar in his classes. Although quiet and reserved, Nick is a caring person who enjoys hanging out with friends or composing his own music to express is feelings or tell a story.

Nick has also been involved in Lego Robotics for over 10 years. Through the First Lego League (FLL) and the Tehachapi Turbines team, Nick learned to work with other team members to help create ideas, overcome obstacles and grow their ability to use technology. With help from coaches and mentors, the Tehachapi Turbines won numerous awards. Then, 10 years after his first FLL qualifier competition, Nick decided as a senior to give back and coach a new startup team to teach what he learned from the First Lego League community.


"FLL is one of the best things that happened to me and I always wanted to come back as a coach. Being able to coach and give back to the FLL community has been awesome," said Nick.

Even with challenging College Prep and concurrent college classes, Nick still managed to participate in numerous extracurricular activities. Nick even took on responsibility as President of Interact Club this year. Under the guidance of Rotary International, the mission of Interact Club is to help others and serve our local community. After attending the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp, Nick strengthened his focus to give back to the community. He chose to tackle teen mental health issues that have plagued our Tehachapi youth. After losing three close friends to suicide, Nick, with the help of Rotary Club of Tehachapi, planned a Mental Health awareness walk last September and started the Youth Empowerment Summit that will take place this Fall.


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"One tree can save the world. One step can make a change. One hand can save a life." These words from Jim Brogan at RYLA inspired Nick to take that step and do what he can to change the world for the better.


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One of the best memories from high school occurred recently for Nick. He realized his dream by being accepted into the University of Southern California with a $50,000 grant to study Game Development and Interactive Media Design. Combining his passion for both gaming and music, Nick plans on working in the video game industry. Along with this, he also hopes to double major in a Cognitive Science field to better understand the human mind and create video games that contain therapeutic elements to help people who do not have access to traditional therapy. According to Nick, "My future holds an infinite number of possibilities. Opportunities that I can pick and choose from as I craft my own future. If nothing else, it holds hope. I've overcome a lot in my life, and I never plan on quitting."


 
 

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