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Going places: WHS graduating senior to study engineering at Arizona State

Worthington High School senior Pedro Manzanarez was a three-sport athlete while taking concurrent enrollment and AP classes to earn college credit. He plans to study engineering at Arizona State University in Tempe this fall. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)1 / 3
Worthington High School senior Pedro Manzanarez will graduate with honors next Friday in the 2018 WHS Commencement. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)2 / 3
Worthington High School senior Pedro Manzanarez was a three-sport athlete while taking concurrent enrollment and AP classes to earn college credit. He plans to study engineering at Arizona State University in Tempe this fall. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)3 / 3

WORTHINGTON — Pedro Manzanarez has attended school in three different states during the past 13 years, but Worthington High School is where’s he’s spent the past four years and it’s where he will graduate from next week.

A native of Arizona — and with both of his older brothers, Steve and Kevin, living in Phoenix — Pedro will attend Arizona State University in Tempe this fall.

“Two of my cousins go there already and they said it’s a really good place to go,” Pedro shared. “There’s a lot of programs you can do in school … and there’s a specific engineering campus that offers a lot of programs that I could use.”

Of course, one of the deciding factors was the scholarship the university offered Pedro — enough to cover more than half of his tuition each year, as long as he maintains a strong grade point average.

Pedro is considering majoring in civil engineering, but also has an interest in robotics and computer programming, particularly after taking a robotics class at WHS with Industrial Tech teacher John Singler earlier this year.

“We programmed robots to complete tasks and that was pretty fun,” Pedro said.

He also took other industrial tech classes with Singler, including Intro to CAD (Computer Aided Design).

“(Singler) said engineering would be good for me because I liked those classes,” Pedro said. “I don’t like being at a desk all day. I need to work with something with my hands so I’m not stuck doing the same thing every day.

“I like solving problems and figuring out what is wrong with something and trying to fix it,” he shared. Both of his brothers have similar talents — one is a welder, and the other fixes air conditioners and freezers.

Pedro isn’t sure yet what he’d like to do for his career, but his dream job would be to work for NASA.

“Working with spaceships and space exploration, that would be really nice; or just inventing stuff and making things better,” he said.

The WHS teachers Pedro said influenced him the most during the past four years here were Singler in industrial tech, Tucker Besel in physics, Gillian Singler in English and Doug Brands in math.

While all of Pedro’s classes have been in the high school, he did take some concurrent enrollment course work to earn college credit. He also took some advanced placement (AP) courses in U.S. history, physics, psychology, composition and biology. A high enough test score in those courses also results in college credit.

With the credits he’s earned, Pedro still anticipates taking four years to earn his bachelor’s degree — and perhaps longer if he wants to earn an advanced degree.

He credits his teachers and his parents for preparing him for the next stage in his life.

“My teachers gave us the materials to study and my parents pushed me to study it,” he said. “That’s what they’ve been telling me the last four years — that education is the No. 1 priority and I need to study if I want to get anywhere.”

Pedro will be the first in his family to pursue a four-year degree, and perhaps an example for his younger sister, Ruby, a seventh-grader at Worthington Middle School.

Pedro’s parents, Pedro and Amada Manzanarez, both hail from Sinaloa, Mexico, and graduated from high school in Arizona.

“That’s where they met,” Pedro said with a smile.

Bilingual in Spanish and English, Pedro decided to challenge himself by enrolling in German as a senior.

“It’s hard to learn another language,” he said, adding that his mom speaks mostly Spanish and his dad knows enough English to get by.

As Pedro learns German, his mom is learning English as a student in the West Learning Center’s Adult Basic Education program.

Pedro has enjoyed his time in Worthington, and said the people here are so much more friendlier than in other areas where he’s lived.

“Most people don’t judge,” he said. “They don’t judge how you look; they judge based on how you do.

“The first day I was here, I already made friends; I got invited into their group,” he added. “Everyone here is just friendly and open.”

While Pedro doesn’t know where life will take him after college, he said he wouldn’t mind returning to Worthington for his career.

“If … they offer something here, I’d love to move back here because this town is a nice community,” he said. “But, if I start working in Arizona, that won’t be bad either because I’ll be close to family. It just depends where that degree takes me.”

Pedro’s extracurricular activities at WHS included helping with the school musical as a freshman and sophomore, and then participating in football, basketball and track as a junior and senior.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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