Salt River High School students and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members Nicole Melendez (sophomore) and Brandon Satchell (senior) applied for and were accepted into the 2015 summer session of the prestigious Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. The program is a very intense and accelerated academic program that gives students from Arizona the opportunity to begin university-level mathematics and science courses before they graduate from high school.
Cynthia Barragan Romero, senior coordinator of the program, stated, “There were 85 students selected to attend the 2015 summer honors program at ASU. This year 22 percent of the total applicants were accepted into the program, and Melendez and Satchell are among them.”
To apply to the honors program, students must be a full-time high school sophomore, junior or senior and have been enrolled in college-track courses. They must have at a minimum a cumulative unweighted grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 and a minimum grade of “B” in all high school math and science courses to date. Since 2012, close to 2,500 students from more than 140 high schools in Arizona have attended the Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program.
Satchell stated, “I was not really interested in [the honors program] at first, but when I started going to the STREAM program, I got interested in it. I took the test and entrance exam, and I got the highest score in our school.”
The students will receive four college credits for the university-level math courses they complete during the summer program. Melendez shared, “When we were in the STREAM program, they were really pushing and encouraging us to do it; [we were] told that we would get college credits, and I thought it would be very useful for me when I do go to college.”
Melendez and Satchell will live on the ASU campus during the week as they participate in an the eight-week accelerated summer session at Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. Tuition, room and board, textbooks and classroom supplies are paid for by ASU.
Melendez shared, “I have never been away from home. [However], our parents can check us out on Friday afternoon, so we will be able to come home on the weekends. But we have to come back by [a certain time] on Sunday evening.”
Satchell came back to Salt River High School halfway through his junior year and as a senior he is ready to graduate. Satchell expressed, “This program was not something I had my mind on, but the more I thought about it, getting four college credits out of the way would be great.”
High- achievers seem to always be focused on something to keep them motivated. When asked what they do to relax and take a break, Satchell offered, “I love to play the video game Call of Duty. I want to progress to competitive playing (gaming competitions).” He added, “After a long day; , and [after being] bombarded with a lot of talking, I have so much in my head that I have to take time [for me]; playing Call of Duty is like a reset for me. I get in my zone, and when I wake up the next day, I feel refreshed.”
Satchell said that after he graduates from SRHS he plans to attend Mesa Community College and then transfer to ASU. His professional pursuit is to become a computer engineer and a software designer.
Satchell will be the first of his brothers and sister to graduate from high school and the first in his family to attend college. “My family is pretty excited for me to go to college,” Satchell pointed out.
Melendez is a sophomore and has been attending Salt River schools since the seventh grade. She has an older sister, Sarah, who is a senior at Salt River High School and will be attending Mesa Community College. Melendez shared, “My sister and I will be the first in our family to go to college, and we have plans to graduate.”
Melendez is very involved in different activities to help her relax from school work and stay focused. She elaborated, “I like to play sports. I play softball and volleyball, and I am also involved with Student Council, so I am very busy with all kinds of activities.”
She plans to attend ASU, but said, “I also will be applying to other colleges to see where I get accepted, and then I will decide. I am thinking about a career [in some type of] sports medicine or business management position. I think something like event management that is focused on planning is something [I would like to do].”
Melendez added, “My parents are very proud that I am taking this opportunity [the honors program] to get ahead.” Most important to Melendez is staying focused. She said, “Staying focused on school work is very important. [I try not to worry] about other things outside of school. I know school will help me in my future [endeavors].”
When both students were asked what advice they would provide to young SRPMIC students, Satchell said, “I would tell them [math and science] is important, it is what makes the world evolve; science is one of the main aspects to learn and study.” Melendez added, “[Science and math] is very important for your education; focus on it. It will help build [your skills] for the future, and it will help you strive for something better in life.”