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Eunice top student plans computer career

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Curtis Wynne/News-Sun

EUNICE — Carla Gavilan, valedictorian of the Eunice High School Class of 2022, hopes to get her associate’s degree from New Mexico Junior College by the end of summer.

She said she’s just that close.

“This year has been very hectic because I took some college classes, about six of them, so I’ve been running around like a maniac for the past year or so,” Carla laughed.

All those extra classes she took at the college, along with her senior classes at Eunice High, paid off.

“Because I took so many, they allowed me to get extremely close to my associate’s (degree),” Carla explained. “I only need one class to graduate with it. I’m thinking of taking that one class this summer, so I can start classes at Texas Tech next fall to get my bachelor’s.”

Expecting to enter the workforce in short order, the 17-year-old said she plans to major in computer science.

In Eunice, Carla lives with her parents, Enrique Gavilan and Maybel Rodriguez, and her younger brother, 13-year-old Carlos Enrique Gavilan, who Carla said is also a good student.

Her father, who works for an oilfield service company, first came to the Eunice area after immigrating from Cuba when Carla was still a little girl. After half a decade while waiting for their immigration approvals, he brought the rest of the family to Lea County.

Carla’s mother works for Interim Health-Care, a home health care franchise.

“I was born and raised in Cuba, for about 10-11 years,” Carla said. “My dad migrated around five years before I did.”

In school, Carla found real joy in life. She loves to learn.

Asked her favorite subject, she said, “I don’t know. I really love school and I love learning. I just find so many things interesting and fun, I just can’t think of one. I really love all of my teachers here and at the NMJC. They make it so fun and so interesting. It just makes it difficult to pick one.”

More into academics than sports (“My favorite sport is chess”), Carla stayed active in spite of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“I’m in the student council, the National Honor Society and the Youth Advisory Council,” Carla said.

She has good memories of other organization in which she participated, often at leadership levels.

“I was in the Book Club before it was shut down because of COVID, and the Robotics Club before it was shut down because of COVID,” Carla said. “COVID was not fun.”

How did she weather the pandemic restrictions? She took advantage of them by learning how to take virtually all of her classes online.

“My sophomore year was difficult to navigate classrooms, getting used to online environments and all that,” she said. That started in March 2020.

By the next term, study time got a little easier.

“My junior year, it wasn’t so difficult because I was taking close to all ITV (interactive television) classes,” said the future computer science expert.

“I was less affected by COVID because I was able to continue my classes online, ” Carla said. “My (non-academic) activities were affected by COVID, but that’s different.”

Now, with graduation from high school, expectation of an associates degree from NMJC without ever having visited the campus, and plans to go to college in Lubbock next fall, Carla finds the easing of pandemic restrictions a positive aspect of life.

“I am so glad. Isolation is not good for anyone,” she concluded.

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