Clovis grad dreams of being doctor

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo O.J. Martinez does a dance of celebration during the processional at the Clovis High School graduation ceremony on Sunday at Rock Staubus Gymnasium. Martinez will be attending New Mexico State University to study engineering and theater.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Yuridia Leyva’s parents separated when she was 11 years old, leaving her working mother in charge of three children. Because Leyva’s mother speaks little English, she looked to her oldest daughter for a helping hand.

Leyva, one of 338 Clovis seniors who graduated Sunday during a ceremony at Rock Staubus Gymnasium, set up the family’s doctors’ appointments, called the phone and electric companies and conducted other family business for her mom. Leyva also made sure her brother and sister made it to school on the mornings her mother had to work early.

Taking on the role of an adult at the age of 11 prepared Leyva for the next chapter of her life, she said, as well as teaching her a few lessons.

“I have a lot of responsibilities at school and home,” Leyva said. “But I learned not to let obstacles you have be an excuse for failing.”

And she didn’t.

Leyva took advanced placement classes even though she didn’t think she would do well.

“I didn’t think I’d get very good grades, but I tried really hard and I got A’s mostly,” Leyva said.

Her father, Aaron Leyva, who surprised her with a visit for graduation, said his daughter displayed her academic prowess at a young age.

“Since she was little, she’s been pretty smart. She went to Early Headstart and could read when she was 1 or 2. And next I taught her spelling.”

Her success in high school has paid off. Leyva received five scholarships to attend the University of New Mexico, where she plans to enroll in the pre-med program.

But that’s as far as Leyva’s plans go.

“I want to go wherever (being a doctor) takes me,” Leyva said. “If I don’t make plans, it’s more fun, more exciting.”