Morton East High School
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- Student Spotlight
Aiming for all the Stars
By Heidimar Basurto-Garcia
Photo taken by Joselin Zuniga-Ascencio.
Joselin Zuniga-Ascencio goes shopping in her free time.
Joselin Zuniga-Ascencio is a current senior attending Morton East High School. Both her parents are from a small pueblo in Jalisco, Mexico called El Carmen. Zuniga-Ascencio was born in Kansas, although she was there for less than a year and does not remember anything there. She is part of the STEM program. In the first year she took sophomore honors math (it was called Integrated Math 2 STEM Honors), her sophomore year she took pre-calc, and in her junior year she took AP calc. Zuniga-Ascencio works as a receptionist at a local nursing home. Her mom, boyfriend, and dog make her life so much easier, and they are a huge part of her life. Although things get hard, she does her absolute best to be able to major as a nurse and specialize in midwifery.
Despite her age, Zuniga-Ascencio feels like she will always need her mom, boyfriend, and dog for support.
“Even though I have turned 18 and should be learning to become more independent, I am constantly relying on my mom to help me with things. She does not mind though; on the contrary, she enjoys it and tells me all the time to stay in the house forever. My boyfriend, it sounds corny, but he gives me all the love I need. He is really the best; he is always trying his best to make me happy and make sure I feel like I am the only one for him. My dog is my motivation. Her name is Navi. She is a Pitbull and I love her so much. I am her only caregiver, so at times it can be extremely hard, but honestly, I would do anything for her,” Zuniga-Ascencio said.
Just as Zuniga-Ascencio received love from those around them, she also received hate from others who did not know her or judged her based on looks.
“I would cry a lot from being so frustrated with my hair. Cried that it was not straight. I cried that people made fun of it when let it down... In elementary school, these boys would call me lion king and I hated it. It’s one of the reasons why I stopped wearing my hair down,” Zuniga-Ascencio remembered.
Even through tough times, Zuniga-Ascencio managed to stay focused on what is important, which is to figure out what life may be like for her and make important decisions.
“Before, I used to think that when I was older, I would be a neonatologist. However, I do not think I would be able to devote myself to something such as medical school. It is a lot of schooling and studying and, in all honesty, I want to enjoy life more. Other than my career plans, life has not been much different than what I imagined,” Zuniga-Ascencio shares.
There is no such thing as giving up for Zuniga-Ascencio, according to Morton East mathematics teacher, Kevin Volk.
“Joselin is very meticulous. If there is ever anything she does not completely understand, she asks about it or works at it until she does understand. I am most proud of her work ethic. She just never gives up. I love answering her questions all day,” Volk stated.
Zuniga-Ascencio's enthusiasm in classrooms is contagious to anyone who is nearby.
“Joselin is a joy to be around. I feel that she really brings up the people around her, especially other students,” Mr. Volk mentioned.
Volk also offered Zuniga-Ascencio advice about moving forward in life.
“Never get discouraged by anything or anyone. You are capable of doing and learning anything!” Mr. Volk advised.
Zuniga-Ascencio's friends believe she is a one-of-a-kind person who cares about everyone and everything that matters. Julissa Carreno is a longtime friend who has nothing but amazing things to share about Zuniga-Ascencio.
“Joselin and I go years back, since 5th grade. Over the years, I saw Joselin become the person she is today. Joselin is one of a kind when it comes to how much she cares about those close to her. Navi, her dog, must be the happiest dog in this world. Joselin dedicates so much of her time to meeting her needs. In the years I’ve known her, she has always been there by my side, no matter how trivial my problems may seem. She finds joy in aiding others, which is something you do not see often,” Carreno assured.
Zuniga-Ascencio enjoys the little moments in life so much. From school to socialization, she knows how to have fun.
“I hope that Joselin truly finds her passion in her future and leaves the mark she is meant to leave in this world. I have no doubt that the path she chooses to embark on will succeed endlessly. At this time, she is looking into nursing, which I believe would be a perfect fit for her. Not only is she sociable and intelligent, but she is also caring, which are perfect attributes for this job. I am most proud about how Joselin has pushed through hardships in her life all while never failing to make us smile. I always admired how she was able to exceed in school both inside and outside the classroom. Not to mention her working on weekends. However, she never forgot to enjoy the little things in life, such as playing with Navi, playing Sims, or going out with her friends,” Carreno commented.
Zuniga-Ascencio aims for the stars like always and anyone who knows her can agree that she is a supportive friend who gives great words of wisdom.
“One word that encapsulates who Joselin is to me is genuine. Joselin is one if not, the most genuine person I know. I can always count on her, to be honest with me, no matter how tough it may be. However, she’ll be there to support me. She is passionate, not afraid to ask questions, and aims for the stars,” Carreno stated.
Zuniga-Ascencio is currently aiming for the stars herself, even if she has obstacles in her life trying to stop her from being a great nurse. Morton East is lucky to have someone like Joselin being a part of the school. Her mark in Morton East, as well as anywhere she goes, is definitely going to be big.