VHS student wins car for excellence

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Miles and miles of highway and the freedom of independence fuel the thrill of first car ownership for most people. That includes, for many young people, transportation to college.

Guama Hairstonel, a graduate of Valencia High School, was delighted to win her first vehicle through the annual high school Renaissance car give-away.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Guama Hairstonel is the proud winner of Valencia High School’s Renaissance Program’s annual car give-away.

“I remembered reading about (a previous winner, Marlisa Kerbs), and I thought, ‘What are the chances of winning a car,” Hairstonel said.

To compound matters, two years ago her family’s car broke down. After $1,200 worth of work, the car broke down again. The family gave up and just started using public transportation, she said.

The competition was so stiff, she put the contest out of her mind by the end of her senior year.

“All these students are so hard working and achieving,” she said. “I thought no way, but it would be so cool if I could win it.”

And then she won the car — a white, 2005 Hyundai Elantra sedan.

“We were crying, my husband was crying, I was crying, she was crying,” said her mother, Rose Hairston. “Because we didn’t have a car, and she had been praying for a car.”

“I’m ecstatic, that’s all I can say,” said her father, Edmond Hairston, a retired police officer.

The car give-away is made possible by car salesman Tom Hornback, the brother-in-law to Renaissance coordinator Diane Silva, and the generosity of Ed Garcia, owner of Garcia Automotive Group in Albuquerque.

Garcia thoroughly inspects the car for soundness, then donates it to the school’s Renaissance program. This is the sixth year of the Valencia High School Renaissance car give-away.

Jostens Renaissance is a national student incentive and awards program that recognizes student effort and achievements.

Selecting a winner includes rating academic performance, grade-point average, leadership, volunteerism, work experience, behavior and attendance. Candidates also must write an essay about how the car would help them further their education.

Hairstonel has been a straight-A student all through high school except for one B. Her grade-point average is greater than 4.1.

Her straight A’s include all her advanced placement and dual-enrollment classes, including courses in world history, biology, math analysis, pre-calculus, U.S. history, government and politics, macroeconomics, English literature and English composition.

She plays the clarinet in the marching band, and received the director’s award this year. She also won best solo at the Solo and Ensemble Festival in Los Lunas, and has won honors in other marching band competitions.

She also won the $1,000 Los Lunas Board of Education scholarship, the Terry Ortiz Memorial scholarship for $500, and the New Mexico Bridge scholarship.

She is now a student at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus and then plans to attend the main campus in Albuquerque or Grand Canyon University.

Her goal is to be a professor of literature because she loves to read, she said. But her secret dream, she said, is to be a worldwide motivational speaker and musician to make the world a better place.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.