NewsPositively San Diego


South Bay high school student inspired by late father to pursue a career in STEM field

Posted at 9:22 AM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 12:22:39-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — If 17-year-old Victoria Ruiz closed her eyes, she could go back to memories with her late father in their Tijuana home where they'd spend hours together building things.

"This one time, my dad had a workshop in the attic, so we went up there, and he was building a light. When I was younger, I'd do little projects with my dad, so that inspired me to get into building things," Ruiz remembered.

She also recalled what she and her parents sacrificed each morning so she could have a good education in the U.S.

"We'd have to get up at four in the morning, crossing the border," said Ruiz.

And Ruiz remembered vividly when her father suddenly passed away overnight after fluid filled his lungs.

"It came down to my mother and me, and she was a great support for me but didn't know English, so I had to struggle in learning English by myself," Ruiz added.

By the time she was in fourth grade, she and her mother moved to the U.S. Ruiz said everything that happened up to that point pushed her to do well in school, bringing along her father's advice.

"He taught me about asking questions. He said, 'If you're ever in doubt about anything, raise your hand, ask a question.'"

Today, Ruiz is a senior at Montgomery High in the South Bay with a 4.8 GPA. She also swims, plays water polo, and interns with a local nonprofit. And just recently, Ruiz received what she described as one of her most significant accomplishments, a full-ride scholarship to Ivy League university Dartmouth.

A video captured the moments she found out. Alongside her teacher, who said, "Congratulations, after all of your efforts and sacrifices over the years."

Ruiz plans to pursue a career in STEM as a prosthetic engineer. A path rooted from where it all began, side-by-side building things in the attic with her dad.

"He never got to college, and he always wanted me to be able to achieve better things, so I think he'd be proud of where I'm at."