By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald
He's an honor student and a gifted three-sport athlete who didn't even learn to speak English until 10 years ago.
Alonso Rivera's most impressive characteristic may be much simpler - he does what he's supposed to do all the time.
The Killeen High School senior recently received word that he's a Dell Scholar, earning him a $20,000 college scholarship, along with technology and mentoring for the next six years.
Rivera will be the second in his family to graduate from high school and the first to go to college.
"It's great," the soft-spoken senior said. "It's getting me a better opportunity to attend college. I'll be the first in my family to attend college. I want to make my family proud. That's what's important."
Albino and Antonia Rivera moved from Guanajuato, Mexico, 10 years ago this May. They have six daughters and three sons.
Alonso spoke no English at the time, but since then has taken a steady stream of advanced high school courses while lettering for four years in soccer, track and cross-country.
He's the most valuable player in the district in soccer and he ran the 3200 meters at the regional track meet May 2-3.
So, how does the accomplished student find the time to achieve academically and athletically?
"When it's time for school, I'm dedicated to that. I get my work done at school," he said. "After that, I run and play soccer."
"I stay focused on school," he said. "My mom says you only get out of life what you put into it."
Rivera has been a part of Advancement Via Individual Determination, known as AVID, since eighth grade. Of the 300 Dell Scholars named this year nationally, 154 are in AVID programs. All are in some kind of college-readiness program.
"It's a great program. It prepares you for college," he said. "It teaches you about life and helps you apply for scholarships. You have to work for what you want."
Christina Harris, AVID coordinator and teacher at Killeen High, said Rivera has taken all the dual-credit courses he can and has applied for 30 different scholarships.
When she told him he received the $20,000 Dell Scholarship, she didn't think he believed her. In fact, his parents didn't believe until their oldest son showed them the evidence online and translated for them the reality of it.
Rivera is looking for the best college match for him. He has been accepted at four universities and is focusing his search on where he can get the best education and play soccer.
The hardworking senior wants to become a doctor. He's driven to help people who can't get medical treatment and to help children of meager resources to play soccer.
"Where I'm from, most people don't get medical treatment," he said. "My dad wanted a better future for us. We came here to make a better life."
Owens named Student of the Quarter
A Shoemaker High School senior who works every afternoon in his chosen field was shocked when he won an award for doing what he loves.
Orlando Owens, a Killeen ISD career preparation student, is the student of the quarter for the Career and Technology Education programs.
He attends classes at Shoemaker in the morning and works for KISD-TV in the afternoon, where he edits video and helps set up for shows in the school auditoriums and other venues.
Owens plans to attend the University of North Texas to study film.
His teachers and program directors surprised him with the award during his work time on April 7.
The past two years Owens has served as the career preparation student assigned to KISD-TV. He has learned all stages of audio and visual production.
"I like it," he said. "I come to work happy. It's fun to do and it's something I want to pursue."