St. Francis High School 2022 valedictorians Manuel Madrigal-Hernandez and Jocelyn Madrigal. —contributed

It was after Jocelyn Madrigal attended an event at St. Francis High School (SFHS) that she decided: This was the school for her. 

Madrigal had not had any family who attended the school, nor did she know much about it before visiting the campus for one of its recurring community Fun Days.

“That’s when I really learned about the tight-knit community that St. Francis really is,” she said. “I loved it, especially how small it was. I loved how all the teachers knew all the students’ names.”

Four years later, Madrigal graduated from SFHS as one of two valedictorians.

“It’s really been a memorable high school experience for me,” she said. “I’ve been involved in Campus Ministry for three years, and played volleyball and track. It’s just opened up a lot of experiences. And the teachers here are role models for me, I really look up to them.”

Madrigal said the school’s Biomedical Science program was a highlight of her time at SFHS.

“I’ve gotten to do so many labs, learn so many different things about anatomy,” she said. “It has really developed my love for science.”

Madrigal will be attending Santa Clara State University to study biology this Fall, and hopes to go to dental school to become a pediatric dentist. Before that, she hopes to find some time for herself and discover some new hobbies. 

“I’ve been so busy,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to make a new schedule soon, where I can try new things. I want to immerse myself in new experiences, maybe travel, do some things I enjoy.”

Valedictorian Manuel Madrigal-Hernandez said that his history classes at SFHS were a standout for him.

“I’m a big history guy,” he said. “That’s the one big subject I’m always confident in. My favorite class has definitely been AP U.S. History with Mr. Ausman, who’s also the school’s football coach. I love it because he brings the energy he has on the field into the classroom. He makes it really fun and entertaining.”

Madrigal-Hernandez was involved in numerous extracurriculars at SFHS, which he said heightened his experience. In addition to football, swimming and wrestling, he was a member of ASB for four years. He gave a shout out to athletic trainer Nicole Sutherland for bringing him on as an apprentice trainer after injuring himself during football season. 

“Nicole really helped me get rehabilitated, but also helped me stay busy and connected with my teammates at the same time,” he said.

This fall, Madrigal-Hernandez will attend UC Los Angeles to study political science. After that, he’ll be looking toward law school.

“The dream is to be a judge,” he said, “but we’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed.”

Similarly to his fellow valedictorian, Madrigal-Hernandez said he is looking forward to having time after graduation to experience some simple, day-to-day things.

“Just little things, like running errands and stuff like that,” he said. “My life is so consumed with school right now. After school I have practice, after that I have homework. Just little things like being out in the town, doing things I want to do, being able to have some time for myself.”

Madrigal and Madrigal-Hernandez joined their fellow SFHS classmates on May 28 for their commencement, surrounded by family, teachers and staff. A total of 63 students were promoted at the ceremony.

“It feels unreal,” Madrigal said. “It’s come so fast. The last four years have been amazingly packed with so much. But St. Francis has helped me make the most of it. I’m grateful for that.”

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Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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