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Teen Hall of Fame: Brian Cortez, Senior, Turlock High School

Bryan is an excellent teen who has soared above the norm.

He has made fantastic achievements academically and athletically, in addition to spending some time giving back to the school that helped him so much.

Bryan comes from a single-parent household and had to learn English when he began school. Now a

4.52 GPA student, he is planning to attend Harvard University next year to study political science and eventually go into law school.

In early April, Bryan attended the Ivy League Field Trip, a program in the Central Valley that tries to help Latino students go to Ivy League schools. The program offers workshops and leadership training, then the trip in the spring and summer. At the colleges, the students get to stay overnight and receive contact information for the admissions offices and students of the colleges, and get information about the application process.

The trip often involves sponsors from local groups for the students, Bryan said, and he received a lot of help and sponsorship from the Turlock Police Department.

Bryan was accepted to both Harvard and Yale and said the trip gave him exposure to the East Coast and a taste of living so far from his family next year.

"I never had those opportunities (to visit Ivy Leagues) when I was younger, and I've always wanted to be able to give back to my mom and to do more in life than my mom was able to do," he said.

At Turlock High, Bryan helps to peer-tutor mentally and physically handicapped kids during his free period. The goal of the tutoring, he said, is to teach them that their disabilities don't mean they can't live a fulfilling life.

"Turlock High School has given me so many opportunities, and I wanted to give back to my school," he said. "I thought that I could either take first period off and sleep in or I could do that and do something to give back."

Bryan also plays left guard for Turlock's varsity football team. The team beat rival school Pitman for the first time this year.

"It was the real frosting on the cake for my senior year," he said.


FAMILY: Mother, Rosa Guzman; father, Alejandro Cortez; brother, Omar, 20

HOBBIES: I love to play sports, like basketball and football, listening to music, watching movies, hanging out with friends and working out with my brother.

BIGGEST INFLUENCE: My mom -- she always taught me to get more out of life. I was the first child in my family born in America and she didn't get the education that she deserved. She taught me to get an education and to do more with my life.

LAST BOOK I READ FOR PLEASURE: "Fahrenheit 451." I read it as a freshman.

FAVORITE TV SHOW: "Family Guy"

FAVORITE MOVIE: "Pulp Fiction"

FAVORITE MUSIC: My favorite artist overall is Kanye West, but every genre of music I like, even a little bit of country.

BIGGEST FEAR: Failure. I'm afraid of what happens if I don't succeed and what would happen if I don't do everything that I want to do with my life.

WHAT I'D TELL THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for the job you're doing. I know you're not going to be able to fix everything right now, but at least you're trying to get us on the right path.

ADVICE FOR KIDS: Just work hard. You can get anywhere you want in life if you work hard. You'll feel fine if you know you worked as hard as you can, and you'll usually succeed.

ADVICE FOR ADULTS: Take care of yourself now while you're still alive. Look to the future, but not so far that you lose what's right now.

WHERE I'LL BE IN 10 YEARS: I see myself probably practicing law, maybe starting a career in politics, and maybe starting to settle down, engaged or married.

-- VICTORIA PARDINI, TEENS IN THE NEWSROOM

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