PB Monthly caught up with Mission Bay High School’s Class of 2019 Valedictorian, Tetsuro Escudero, and Salutatorian, Zander Caufield, to see what these top-of-the-classers had to say about their ninth- to twelfth-grade experiences. They shared their insights with honesty and good humor — thanks guys! Congratulations to all the graduating Buccaneers.
Q: What were the best things about your high school days?
Tetsuro Escudero: Valedictorian
“I’m taking like seven International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, so I saw most of my classmates in every single class I went to. Since we all took the same classes together, just sharing a super close-knit relationship with lots of my friends was really nice. I got to see the same faces every day and talk to the same people every day. My friends and I grew together and we learned together. IB is very good at connecting people’s ideas and creating a team effort within a class rather than just having individual people learn.”
Zander Caufield: Salutatorian
“I would have to say playing volleyball. These were some of my best times in high school — especially because I got to meet new people, some really great guys on the team. It was really nice because taking IB classes is a stressful thing to do, but playing volleyball really helped me cope with the stress and build relationships with other people. Volleyball’s over now, and I can tell I’ve been more stressed lately because volleyball’s over. So it’s just been really nice to be able to play a sport and spend time with other people outside of the classroom.”
Q: What were the worst things about high school for you?
Escudero: “Ironically, it’s also IB. I enjoy going to school and hanging out with my friends and learning stuff I’m interested in, however, there’s so much homework from IB that it’s actually kind of insane. I probably did at least 10 all-nighters throughout the two years. I mean, that’s mostly from procrastination, but still ... Definitely the homework aspect is a little insane, but that’s partly due to my fault.”
Caufield: “I, in general, had a pretty good time in high school. But the worst part would probably be the period in March/April-ish where a whole bunch of IB projects were due back-to-back. I procrastinated on a lot of them, so I ended up having to stay up late and work on all the projects and essays and whatnot. It’s completely my fault. I could have started to work on them earlier, but to be fair, this main essay we have to write — it’s like a 4,000-word essay for IB — I just didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to write ... I had to switch topics over the school year. It was slow for me to figure out what I wanted to do for my essay.”
Q: What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?
Escudero: "The most important thing I want to stress to them is that school is not everything. Yes, you should try your best, and obviously, you should try to present yourself in a way so that you will be satisfied with your future career. You should try the best for yourself. But there’s such a high demand on getting good grades and SAT scores and ACT scores and getting into a perfect college, that I think that’s one of the biggest stressors in high school environments.
So just be mindful of what your situation actually is, because a lot of people I’ve seen don’t really ground their expectations in reality. The best advice I have is to really know yourself, know your limits, what you can and can’t accomplish. It’s OK if you can’t meet all your expectations. You’re never going to be 100 percent happy with all your choices, but just know yourself and really try your hardest, but don’t try so hard that you’re going to hate your life.”
Caufield: “I’d tell freshmen to make sure you don’t procrastinate. That’s my No. 1 thing! It’s never been an issue with me until this year actually, and that’s when I had the most trouble with being stressed with projects and stuff like that. Take projects a little at a time — that’s what’s important. I used to do that and it made projects so much easier and so much less daunting.
I could also do what I wanted to do, like play sports or hang out with friends. But when you procrastinate, basically, you’re setting yourself up to spend a lot of time doing what you want, and then all of a sudden you have to sacrifice all that time to do something you don’t want to do. If you moderate it and take just a bit of time on the projects all along, then you’ll be just fine.
So freshmen: Try your best not to get senioritis! Get your homework done as soon as you can and don’t wait until the last minute to turn it in.”
Q: What are your college plans?
Escudero: “I’m going to UC Berkeley for four years. Right now, I’m undeclared, but I have a few different options. I applied for integrative biology because I really like biology, but I may switch to data science with a focus in biology. I want to study some hospital-algorithm-technician-type stuff, or maybe computer science ... something related to technology and biology.”
Caufield: “I got accepted into UC Berkeley and UCLA; both are mechanical engineering programs. I also got into UCSB as an undeclared, but I chose to go to UCSB because of my love for volleyball. I plan to major in environmental science, perhaps double major in geology or something else because environmental science itself as a major isn’t that strong. You typically need to major or minor in something else as well.
I plan on becoming an environmental engineer sometime in the future, although I’m still keeping my options open. I’m not 100 percent sure on what I want, but the environment to me is really interesting — especially seeing all the stuff today about all the problems we’re causing, it sucks. But then, I also like looking at the success stories of people creating something that’s helping people survive, helping keep the environment healthy. I want to help with that process in some way.”