With graduation, a chapter ends

Stonewall Jackson High School senior Amber Gonzalez plans to attend the University of Virginia. She'll be among those graduating from Stonewall Jackson during today's ceremony in Quicksburg. Courtesy photo

Amber Gonzalez, of Mount Jackson, will graduate from Stonewall Jackson High School with 116 classmates on Friday.

“It’s kind of like the closing chapter,” she said.

President of the Art Guild, secretary of the National Honor Society and a member of the Spanish Honor Society and World Language Club, she has been much involved in her high school career.

Intent on studying biology at the University of Virginia, she plans on pursuing a career in epidemiology.

But the 18-year-old said she hasn’t always been on the fast track.

The fourth of six siblings, Gonzalez said it’s been tough on her single mother raising a large family.

“It was a really big decision to go far away to school,” Gonzalez said.

Used to helping out at home, she also volunteers around the community, contributing hours at Life Care Nursing Home in New Market and helping tutor younger students at Ashby Lee Elementary School in Quicksburg.

She’s volunteered with school science fairs and donated time at the SPCA. In her junior year, she coached Little League soccer. She also works three part-time jobs.

But she knew leaving for college was the right choice for her. “I’m a really motivated person, I guess.”

Having secured scholarships to help pay for her education, she admitted she’s spent a good bit of her senior year in her high school’s guidance department researching her options.

“I plan to take up any opportunity at UVA that I can,” she said. “I know I’ll have plenty.”

With a little time to relax before leaving for school in Charlottesville, she plans a beach trip with friends this summer and intends to work as much as possible. She’s also accepted a volunteer internship at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, hoping to shadow professionals, she said.  “Maybe just seeing what that life is going to be like.”

Excited for graduation, she said she hopes to make her family proud.

“I hope I inspired them a little bit. I hope I put a little bit of a twinkle in their eye.”

Stonewall Jackson High School will hold its graduation at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com