It all started at Treasure Hills Elementary School in Harlingen.
Now Soumya Gogia, Anjali Bhatla and Adriana Gonzalez are the top three graduates from the Science Academy of South Texas in Mercedes.
“I guess we got a foundation at Treasure Hills and it’s nice to know we’ve all been together for so long,” said Gogia, valedictorian.
Bhatla, 17, said that at Treasure Hills she was surround by really good classmates and the school emphasized learning.
“I think when you’re younger that’s when it’s important to place an emphasis on education and that’s what Treasure Hills did and so that kind of carried on into the future,” said Bhatla, salutatorian.
Likewise, Gonzalez also feels Treasure Hills laid a good foundation for them all, and a great deal of it had to do with the student body.
“There were a bunch of kids who were really good at school, pretty intelligent,” said Gonzalez, 16, who was moved in the middle of fourth grade into fifth grade.
“I think probably the biggest thing, we had this program with accelerated reading points, and you would get that based off of how many books you could read and how many points you could get,” Gonzalez said. “I know all three of us, at the top three at Science Academy were all very involved in that.”
Gogia,17, and Bhatla both remember Principal Linda Krabill, who has since retired.
“Ms. Krabill, she was the best,” Bhatla said. “She was really nice. She had a lot of interaction with the students. She knew all of our names. And she would always talk to us and she made an effort to get to know every student.”
Gogia said Krabill was always pushing them to get involved in activities like UIL. She remembers her UIL coach, Maricella Olmos. She and Bhatla both competed in number sense, and Olmos coached them very well.
There was an interlude after they left Treasure Hills. They started out at Coakley Middle School. Gogia stayed all three years, then the other two later left to attend South Texas Preparatory School. They reunited at the Science Academy.
Gogia continued to compete in UIL at the Science Academy, in number sense, calculator, science and math. Bhatla competed in number sense, math and science. Gonzalez competed in UIL debate team.
While at the Science Academy, Gogia was named a National Merit Scholar and a National AP Scholar. She was president of the Mu Alpha Theta math club, president of the music club, and secretary of the National Honor Society.
She plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
“I’ll be on a pre-med track there, and hopefully I’ll apply to medical school after four years,” Gogia said.
The Science Academy, she said, isn’t really geared toward medicine. It’s more of an engineering school. However, it did prepare her for medical studies.
“It think it definitely taught me how to work hard and study, like you definitely need to know how to do in medical school,” Gogia said.
Bhatla said the strong learning environment she experienced at Treasure Hills definitely had an impact on her performance at the Science Academy.
“Because it’s a magnet school,” she said, “they place a lot of emphasis on learning and different engineering classes. There aren’t any sports or anything like that. Definitely going to Science Academy, I was immersed in this environment where all the kids really cared about school and learning.”
During her tenure at the Science Academy, she was named a National AP Scholar and a National Coca-Cola Scholar, and she was a semi-finalist for the Presidential Scholar Award. She was also president of the student council and president of a community service club she started at the school.
She said she’s been accepted in the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program.
“I’m going to Rice and then I already have early acceptance into Baylor College of Medicine,” she said.
She’s thinking about specializing in cardiology, but she’s not sure.
Gonzalez wasn’t trying to become third in her class. It just kind of happened.
“I wasn’t too competitive about it,” she said. “I just did my best and ended up where I ended up. Science Academy has always been a close-knit group of people who are all trying to do well and they all help each other. And so there’s a standard of excellence and support.”
While at Science Academy, she was a National AP Scholar and a National Merit Finalist. She was the captain of her school’s debate team that made it to the state competition this year, and she was a member of the running club in her school.
She’s also a Smilow Scholar, which is a full-tuition scholarship to New York University, she said.
“It’s kind of directed toward students who are interested in the science and technology engineering and math field, and who are interesting in going into research for a career,” she said.