by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Always Rising Above

student_reyes2Ke’ana Reyes’ success story does not follow the typical trajectory. This 92129 Student Star rises above the crowd not only for her accomplishments but for what she has overcome to achieve them. A senior at Westview High School, Ke’ana has played an active role in the school’s ROTC, National Honor Society, and peer counseling program. “I enjoy offering help to people in need and try my best to serve others first before I serve myself because that is how I was raised,” said Ke’ana. “I also find volunteering stress-relieving because I know I am providing a sense of purpose.”

For a time, Ke’ana questioned her sense of purpose. Adopted by her grandparents, she spent much of her childhood with her beloved aunt, who had Down syndrome. When her aunt was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in 2011, Ke’ana experienced great loneliness. After working with a doctor and learning about depression, she began therapy. “It took five years for me to become mentally and emotionally balanced but during these five years, I became part of peer counseling, where I got the privilege to mentor peers who faced the same or nearly the same hardships as myself,” Ke’ana shared. “It made me feel better knowing that I applied my hardships into something positive at Westview.”

Name: Princess “Ke’ana” Reyes (17)
School: Westview High School
Grade: 12
Parents: Joseph Reyes and Gigi Pereyra
Grandparents/Adoptive Parents: Edgardo Reyes and Aida Reyes
Siblings: Raina (16) and Christian (11)
Favorite Spots in 92129: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Starbucks, Cotija’s Mexican Grill, Golden Spoon

student_reyes3On the weekends, Ke’ana spends her time serving meals in downtown San Diego at Father Joe’s Village. This endeavor is important to her on a personal level, as her father was a homeless combat veteran. She also shares her positive influence as a high school aide at Deer Canyon Elementary School. There, Ke’ana works alongside teachers to support instruction, help with classroom management, and supervise on the playground and during field trips. “The most challenging aspect of my job is that I have amazing kids and I find myself being more of a friend rather than an aide,” she admitted. Volunteering became such an important facet of Ke’ana’s life after joining ROTC; she was required to complete one volunteer event per quarter. Since then, Ke’ana has served as community service officer in the ROTC and as project leader for the National Honor Society. Ke’ana explained, “My main responsibility was to contact nearby schools and organizations and look for potential events for my peers.”

Today, Ke’ana continues to maintain her immaculate grades at Westview, remains committed to serving others, and looks ahead to college, where she plans on pursuing her dream of studying computer science or nursing.