Since a young age, Desert View Freshman Mario Valencia has had an interest in robots and technology. He remembers applying to technology camps as a kid and being turned down because he was too young. When he heard about the Arizona GEAR UP Leadership Academy & Technology Camp, he jumped on the opportunity and signed up immediately.
The camp highlighted the science, technology, engineering, and math fields and provided students with a robot that they programmed themselves. Students selected their focus—from game design to robotics. Mario, of course, signed up for the robotics class, where he spent the next week building and programming his robot that he presented to the class at the end of the week.
Mario built a robot from scratch that included wheels, lights, and sounds that he could control entirely from his phone. Although he loves robots and programming, his passions don’t end there.
Mario is currently in the band at his school, where he focuses on percussion instruments. Because of the pandemic, Mario hasn’t been able to attend high school in person, but this fall, he will meet his band for the first time. Mario is exploring the arts even more as he will join his school’s theater program.
While Mario is fascinated by robots, engineering, and technology and considering it for school, he wants to shoot for the stars in a different way.
“I want to get into something with entertainment. That’s what my goal is, I’m trying to find schools that are good with their performing arts programs,” Mario said.
Even as an incoming sophomore, Mario is already thinking about his future. He has looked at schools like UArizona and UCLA and knows what he needs to do to get there.
“When I go to college, I have a couple of plans; I want to either study music, law, or become a teacher,” Mario said.
In his spare time, Mario writes and composes his own music. He spends time listening to other artists’ music and learning about their journeys in the music world. He wants to give the industry a try, whether that is in music, acting, or behind the scenes.
“My goal with entertainment is that I want to make people feel happy and have a good time,” Mario said.
After his time in his entertainment, he wants to become a music teacher back home in Tucson.
“Overall, I want to support my family after college and give back for all the support they have given me. I want to make them proud.”
The sky’s the limit for Mario, and on his journey through high school, he will have help from GEAR UP and the Senior Launch Guide to help him on his way to life after graduation.