Engineering his future
May 18, 2014
Examples set by his parents motivated Raul Leon to reach his education goals. Watching them work long hours after moving the family from Mexico and carve out time to accomplish some of their own education goals, Leon learned early in life about the importance of schooling.
"I watched my parents work so hard to give me this opportunity. That's motivation for me, and my education will open a lot more doors for me for any career, really," Leon said. "School has always been natural for me. I felt if I didn't go to school, I'd be wasting a lot of potential, and my parents made me realize that."
Leon graduates from Western Nevada College on Monday with an Associate of Science Degree, nearly realizing a 4.0 grade point average in the process. The only blemish on Leon's grade transcript, if you can call it that, is the A- that he received in a physics lab.
"Raul is truly an outstanding young man with a bright future. He is very ambitious and organized, with commendable self-discipline," said Shelly Bale, WNC's student center manager and an adviser for the Associated Students, of Western Nevada, of which Raul was a member.
Determined to not depend on his parents for college financial assistance, Leon has worked two part-time jobs to help pay his bills. He is currently working 35 to 40 hours a week at Starbucks.
"I want to create something for myself, and I've gotten used to it," he said. "Luckily, they supply free coffee."
Leon recalled his father teaching him at a young age that work is more important than fun and responsibilities take priority over leisure.
By the time, he entered Dayton High School, Leon was focused on his studies. He left with a 4.0 GPA and aspirations to become a mechanical engineer.
Leon said the key to his success at WCN has been time management.
"In high school, everything is laid out for you from 8 to 2. In college, you have to manage time better and focus more on certain classes," Leon said. "You have to put more effort into what you're doing. The classes are so fast-paced and you are learning so much in such a short period of time, that you have to keep up or you will fall way behind."
Leon's commitment to his education has been observed by WNC professors, including Dr. Thomas Herring and Jennifer Verive.
"Raul is consistently an active participant in lecture and lab. He has excellent study habits and is usually ahead of most of the class in finishing assignments," said Herring, a physics professor. "He strives for success in understanding the big picture of science and clearly cares about more than just making the grade. Raul is a great student with a lot of potential."
Leon's active participation in class discussions has impressed Verive, a psychology instructor.
"His comments and his willingness to demonstrate key concepts in front of the class illustrate his easy-mannered confidence and concern for not only his own learning but that of his fellow students as well," Verive said. "His strong work ethic and focus have enabled Raul to excel beyond most of his peers in his performance in the course, in all areas from writing to oral presentations to testing. Add to these robust academic skills Mr. Leon's charm and keen self-awareness, and it's clear that this young man is already and will continue to be a leader in whatever endeavor he chooses."
On campus, Leon has worked at the student center and became involved with ASWN, serving as a senator.
"The organization has given me unique and diverse opportunities to become a greater influence in the college and its constituent students," he said.
Bale said that Leon has given AWSN exactly what his professors are observing in the classroom.
"Being part of student government is very demanding, and Raul has met all of his commitments with integrity and positive energy," Bale said.
Leon is already enrolled in an engineering mechanics class at the University of Nevada, Reno, and will transfer full time in the fall to pursue a mechanical engineering degree.