Slice of Life: Kimberly Nicole Bocanegra

RIO HONDO — Kimberly Nicole Bocanegra’s work with her school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program is helping pave her career.

After she graduates from Rio Hondo High School in June, she plans to join the Army before going on to college.

At school, the ROTC program helped her learn to give back to her country.

“I want to serve my country,” said Bocanegra, the daughter of Jose and Benjamina Bocanegra of Rio Hondo.

Then a friend told her the Army could help pay her way through college.

“To me that’s security for my future,” she said.

Now, Bocanegra ranks in the top half of her class, with a 3.1 grade-point average.

But for years, she’s thrived on the Bobcat band.

Since her junior year, she’s served as the band’s drum major.

“It taught me a lot of leadership skills,” she said.

But since sixth grade, she’s honed her talents as a clarinetist.

“I love playing music,” she said. “It gives me this feeling — I get chills all over my body. It’s so emotional I almost want to cry.”

Last year, Bocanegra became president of the school’s InterAct Club, where she arranges the organization’s community service events.

“I feel great about it,” she said. “I’m in charge of a lot of things.”

So far, she’s led events including cleanup drives in Harlingen and South Padre Island.

“We help out the community,” she said.

After serving four years with the Army, she plans to go on to Texas A&M University at Kingsville, where she wants to study criminal justice.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve watched TV shows and that really interested me,” she said. “I want to go out there in the field helping people and solving cases.”