“Because it’s so surreal to think that you’re the number one student in the school. So it was amazing to have that feeling of accomplishment.”

Brittney Garza, valedictorian at HSHP


Staff Writer

HARLINGEN — They helped each other out through the years.

They’ve been a team, you might say. And now Brittney Garza and Matthew Garcia have made it to the finish ahead of everyone else.

“It feels amazing,” said Brittney, 18, valedictorian of the Harlingen School of Health Professions Class of 2019.

Matthew, a virtuoso viola player who is heading to Harvard, came in a close second as salutatorian.

“A lot of our journey through high school hasn’t so much been about fighting each other for the spot or fighting to be at the top but just about having a good experience along the way,” he said. “I really don’t feel a sense of extreme kind of pride or entitlement to it. It’s just something that kind of happened naturally.”

Brittney said learning she was in the top spot came as a complete surprise.

“Mrs. Garza called me in privately because she wanted to tell me one on one,” she said, referring to HSHP principal Tina Garza.

“When she told me we hugged and we were laughing and she congratulated me on everything that I had accomplished and she was very proud of me,” she said. “I was proud of myself, too. It was amazing to see that all the work that I’d put in actually paid off.”

Curiously, she revealed her study habits aren’t as good as she’d like them to be.

“I wouldn’t say that my study habits are great, but they have worked for me,” she said. “I tend to study when I feel a necessity for it. I only studied when I felt like the subject matter was a lot harder. So I felt the need to study.”

Matthew expressed similar sentiments.

“Brittney and I had the exact same study habits,” he said. “I think definitely that everything comes on a need to learn basis. The things that are a little bit difficult I’d probably spend like the day before and try to invest myself further into it.”

They kept some pretty late hours sometimes.

“Brittney and I have the same habit of working until 1, then falling asleep, and then getting up at 5 and then finishing it, and then going back to sleep,” Matthew said with a laugh.

Their success was no doubt a team effort.

“We have this habit of calling each other, texting each other,” Brittney said. “We had a lot of the same classes, so we had a lot of the same assignments. We would work on them kind of together, and be like, ‘What section are you on? What section are you on?’ And we would compare how behind we were.”

She plans to study psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Brittney Garza

AGE: 18

WHAT: Valedictorian at Harlingen School of Health Professions

PARENTS: Lucio and Becki Garza

Matthew Garcia

AGE: 18

WHAT: Salutatorian at Harlingen School of Health Professions

PARENTS: Ruth and Jesse Garcia.