COOLIDGE — Imagine Prep Coolidge valedictorian Nataly Miramontes says that since the early grades, she knew that she had a natural aptitude for school. She said she prefers study-oriented projects, has taken AP courses, attended CAVIT and is always looking to expand her knowledge.

But according to Miramontes, this dedication to learning comes from two people who never had much of a formal education at all: her parents.

“They came from Mexico with nothing,” Miramontes said. “Their schooling in Mexico wasn’t great. But they learned to live here. They worked really hard to provide me and my siblings with a life here. So I’ve always been inspired to go beyond and make them proud.”

Because of their influence, Miramontes will be the first member of her family to go to college. Miramontes will attend the University of Arizona in the fall to study nutritional sciences and become a dietician. She describes her parents as “proud but not surprised” as her academic performance was no secret, and they didn’t expect any less of her.

“I am a firm believer intelligence is not measured by test scores,” Miramontes said. “If you have good work ethic, if you turn in assignments, keep yourself on track, I really think you will do well.”

Miramontes also credited Imagine Spanish teacher Maricela Morfin and CAVIT medical assistant teacher Tiffany Brown for encouraging her and helping her with the college process.

“Ms. Morfin is always telling me that anything is possible,” Miramontes said. “And Ms. Brown has taught me professionalism in the workforce. She’s very strict but she wants us to go out into the world and succeed.”

Overall, she characterized her time at Imagine as “nurturing” and praised the school for trying to make the best out of circumstances during the pandemic.

Over the past year, especially when school was virtual, Miramontes said the biggest challenge was to stay motivated and not put off schoolwork.

“Procrastination is the thief of time,” Miramontes said. “But I tried to look at the positives and focus on what I’ve learned. I found myself during those days.”

When in college, Miramontes said she hopes to challenge herself a little more by getting out of her comfort zone and becoming more involved in extracurriculars. The includes transition from tiny Coolidge to Tucson and UofA’s large campus. But even now, Miramontes said she’s a regular churchgoer and spends a lot of time in artistic pursuits such as drawing or painting.

“The real world is very scary,” Miramontes said. “But I am focusing on growing as a person, and focusing on what I will do in the future. I’m excited to graduate.”

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.

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