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Pueblo seniors get wildcat surprise

Posted November 4, 2014

The University of Arizona and Pueblo Magnet High School teamed up to pull off a big surprise on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Most of the students and parents gathered in Pueblo's gym thought they were there for an awards assembly. They were stunned when the lights went out, the U of A fight song played and dozens of university representatives, including members of the pom squad and Wilbur the Wildcat ran into the gym to give 61 students who had applied for early admission into the university the answer they were hoping for: "Yes!"

Tatiana Begay, a senior who earned early admission, said the surprise was overwhelming. "It was really unexpected to be accepted at a school I've been wanting to go to all my life," she said. "It was hard to even comprehend."

Begay will be the first in her family to attend college. "It means the world to me," she said. "I worked hard for it. I earned it. I can impact my own life."

That's the message Dr. H.T. Sánchez, TUSD superintendent, wants all of the students at Pueblo and in the district to get.

"I have a challenge," he told the packed gym. "I want all of the students to imagine yourselves there," pointing to the seniors who had gotten acceptance letters. "Think about the kind of decisions you need to make to be sitting there."

Ruben Romero, a counselor in Pueblo's College and Career center worked closely with the seniors to help them through the application process, and he is proud that so many student earned acceptance. He, too, is excited about the example the group sends to the wider student body.

"I think the excitement of the event will create an interest and enthusiasm that hopefully permeates the underclasses about making college plans and being admitted to college a reality," he says.

Kasey Urquidez, dean of admissions, told the students that applying for early admission was a decision that puts the students on a path to a successful future.

"When you're a Wildcat, your opportunities are endless," she said. "We thank you and congratulate you on earning admission at one of the best universities in the world."

After the assembly, students and their families were welcomed by cheering university staff and volunteers into the cafeteria, where they were offered A-shaped cookies and could take photos with Wilbur, pom squad members and friend and family.

Hilario Ochoa said it took awhile for the news to set in. "For me, it was a big shock to find out. It was also really nice to know I got accepted." Hilario said he has always been promised that if he worked hard he would get opportunities. "It was really nice to secure promises that had made," he said.

Sabrina Parra was accepted into the college of law at the university. While she is still working to figure out what kind of law she wants to practice, she has clear goals. Sabrina said that college has always been important in her family. "I've always wanted to work hard for them and do my best."

Her mother, Angie Lopez, a U of A alum, is proud of her daughter. "I'm excited. She has worked really hard."

 Photo of students
Hilario Ochoa and Tatiana Begay just after they received news that they earned early admission.
Photo of students
Angela Lopez with her daughter, Sabrina Parra, who was accepted into the School of Law.