Alumni Stories

Still Setting Goals!

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Meet Jackelyn Valladares!

Set your goals – it’s time to kick off the 27th season of Students Run LA! These three words still resonate with Jackelyn Valladares, a 12-year alumnus of SRLA. Upon seeing this recent Instagram post, Jackelyn immediate responded with a message of her deepest thanks.

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Running with Confidence

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Meet Adriana Garcia!

Immigrating to the United States when she was 15, Adriana found herself in a new country, a new school, and learning a new language in her ESL classes. Determined not to be picked on, Adriana joined SRLA at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale. There, she found a supportive community in her SRLA Team – “we never left each other’s side,” she says. With the backing of her teammates, Adriana knew she “was never going to quit” and credits her first two marathons with SRLA for teaching her determination and hard work, discovering that “if you work for it, you can achieve it.”

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Train Hard, Try Hard, & Give Back

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“Life is your Marathon. From the beginning you only take one step at a time. The course may have its hills, bumps and cracks, but you’ll get over them.”

‐ Alum Alexis Interiano, Incoming freshman at UC Merced ’19

My journey began five years ago when a shy overweight individual with lung problems joined SRLA. From the moment I joined, my coach shared with me that to reach the finish line of any objective you have to ask yourself if you’ve trained hard enough, tried hard enough, and given back enough. I did not quite understand him at first, but if it weren’t for this advice I would have never completed my full potential with SRLA. As I took on my first rigorous 6 month training, I lost so much fat that my own family did not recognize me when I got awarded “Most Motivated” on our Carbo-Load Night before the Honda LA Marathon 2011. *I trained hard enough*

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From SRLA to the LA Marathon

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“I wouldn’t be working at the LA Marathon today if it weren’t for SRLA. Running the LA Marathon twice with SRLA opened an avenue for me into the endurance industry which is exactly where I want my career to be.”

‐ Alum Randolph Garcia, Special Projects Coordinator for the LA Marathon

In 2004 and 2005, Randy ran with the SRLA Team at the Carson California Academy of Math and Science. After earning his Masters in Sports Management, he joined the LA Marathon team.

Now, it’s Randy’s job to run the LA Marathon from behind the scenes.

He remains inspired by the program and his love for running marathons is stronger than ever!

Randy has participated in marathons across the country and is currently training for his first international marathon. SRLA started it all!

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From the Inner City to California State Parks

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“SRLA gave me the inspiration to reach my goals and pushed me to do things I never thought I’d do. I grew up in the inner city and we went to parks as a kid, but SRLA gave me a love of the outdoors.”

‐Evelyn Aguilar, California State Parks

For many SRLA students, Los Angeles is no bigger than their “backyard.” Evelyn Aguilar fell in love with outdoors and developed a commitment to her community through the SRLA program.

Evelyn’s participation in SRLA at 32nd Street High School sparked her future. She attended Williams College in Massachusetts, earning a degree in biology. After a year of service mentoring at‐risk youth in South Central, Evelyn found her dream job. Evelyn now works for California State Parks, a role that combines her love of biology with community service. This fall, she will attend Cal State Fullerton to pursue her Master’s Degree in environmental science.

Evelyn credits SRLA for the job that she has today. “[SRLA] showed me that I could take on physical challenges and that opened a lot of doors for me. I probably would’ve been intimidated to do a job like this (working for CA State Parks) prior to SRLA.”

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From the Beginning and Back Again: Lulu

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Meet Lulu Rojas – just one of a growing body of SRLA student alumni who are now SRLA leaders!In 1989, Lulu started running with one of SRLA’s founders, Harry Shabazian, at Roosevelt High School when SRLA first began. Until getting involved with SRLA, Lulu had no plans for college. SRLA changed everything. After graduating from Cal State LA with a degree in Kinesiology, Lulu began her career at LAUSD as a substitute teacher. She later started teaching as a permanent physical education teacher and is now an Athletic Director and SRLA LEADER!“SRLA taught me a lot about discipline, how to set goals, and how to get through any trials in life. As a child, that’s huge. No one teaches you that in the classroom. Knowing how to set goals and be disciplined helped me through some unsettling times.”

In 2000, Lulu started her own SRLA group at Downtown Magnet in 2000 and has run 15 LA Marathons with SRLA. She is just one of a growing body of SRLA student alumni (in 2015, more than 30 strong) who are now SRLA leaders!