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Moorpark High Grads Shine and Soar to New Heights

Meet four of Moorpark High's outstanding graduates, who share some common denominators: hard work, leadership, long-term goals, and a burning desire to excel.

Graduation is an exciting time in a young person’s life. It’s a time of celebration and accomplishment, and an important step toward adulthood.

For many graduates, it also means beginning an important new chapter in their lives—going to college. For these  graduates, that prospect seems especially bright.

John Butzer: Musically Inclined and Medically Driven

An outstanding student with a 4.0 GPA, John Butzer’s two great passions in life are music and medicine.

“Band is a huge part of what I do inside of school,” said Butzer, a school band member. “And then I have other musical activities outside of school.”

According to Butzer, playing music is an anomaly in his family. His father is an IT specialist with Bank of America. His mother was employed as a marketing manager with News America Marketing.

“No one in my family is musically adept, but I’ve just loved music ever since I was young," he said. "I asked for a guitar five years ago and it just went from there.”

He also has plans to pursue a career in medicine.

“I did an internship in operating procedures last summer. I shadowed doctors and helped take care of patients at the Aspen Surgery Center in Simi Valley,” he said.

Butzer’s career plans are no pipe dream. He’s been offered a scholarship to California State University, Channel Islands.

“I’m going on a full-ride academic scholarship and majoring in nursing and emergency medicine,” he said.

College is all about opportunity after all, said this young man whose parents did not get the chance.

“It means a chance to move forward,” he said. “It’s exciting for me to be able to take that step forward and be able to pursue what I want to do in life.”

Michael Montgomery: A Born Leader and Athlete

For some students such as Michael Montgomery, senior year was hardly a breeze. On the day before his birthday, his best friend died. Dealing with his death has been a struggle.

“It took me a long time to recover,” he said, “But now I know that going to college is more than just for me. I know he’s up there smiling because I’ll be successful and be happy doing what I want to do.”

Montgomery’s primary passion is sports, especially the pole vault. He holds the MHS record in the event. This year he finished third in the CIF and second in the Marmonte League.

He has also been involved in leadership programs such as the Moorpark Unified School District’s Achieving Character Together (ACT) and the Renaissance program.

“I emcee at many of the rallies and organize a lot of activities for the student body,” he said. “It has led me to become a leader in the school.”

A lifelong Moorpark resident, he pays particular tribute to his mother who has been a lasting influence in his life.

“She does a lot for me,” he said. “She raised me on her own, supported me in all the trials I’ve been through, and helped me build character.”

Montgomery plans on attending Long Beach State in the fall to study kinesiology with an emphasis on exercise science. While his choice is closely connected to his love of sports, his interest germinated when he took a college-level course at .

“That’s when I fell in love with it and realized it’s what I want to do for a living,” he said.

However, track was his ticket to college and his gateway into his academic dream. “It’s what got me into college,” he said.

Haroon SherJan: The Future Politician

Haroon SherJan, whose family escaped from Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, has thrived on gratitude and used it to propel himself to greater heights.

“During the 1970s when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, my parents were smuggled out,” SherJan said.

SherJan has been active in the MHS Future Business Leaders. He will be attending New York University this fall.

“I’ll be studying international business, political science, economics, and their relationship with one another,” said the teen who will be traveling to London and Shanghai as part of the curriculum.

He is also interested in politics and entrepreneurship.

“Ideally, I’ll go to business and law school and get my JD/MBA,” he said. “From there I’d like to go straight into politics.”

SherJan also envisions owning a small, beachfront shop or restaurant in Southern California.

In preparation for a political career, he’s been active in the California YMCA Youth in Government program where about 2,500 high school students meet three times a year and form a model state legislature and court system.

SherJan considers himself very fortunate.

“Going to college is an opportunity that I’ve been lucky to have,” he said. “I could have been stuck in Afghanistan. College is not just the gift. It’s the means to the end, not the final goal.”

Cynthia Bautista: The Community Leader

For young women such as Cynthia Bautista, community service involvement is very important. Her time at MHS has reflected that interest. In addition to her studies, she has been active in the National Honor Society and the California Scholarship Federation.

With the NHS, she helped teachers.

“We clean the classrooms.” she said. “Teachers have to deal with so many budget cuts so we clean desks, do filing, and do anything that can be of help to the teachers.”

With the California Scholarship Federation, she has been working with special needs students.

“We try to get special education students more involved at our school,” she said. “We always play games with them, get them to talk to us and help get them more at the center of what we’re doing at MHS.”

Bautista has also been active with a local mentoring program called Help Our Youth (H.O.Y.), founded by Moorpark insurance agent and community leader Moy Serrano. The teen credits Serrano with helping her develop leadership skills.

“He’s become a mentor to me,” she said. “I’ve become one of the two youngest board members. It’s helped me step outside of my comfort zone and become more open to meeting new people.”

Bautista’s family emigrated from Mexico City when she was 2 years old.

“My mom moved here to give us a better opportunity at education. My mom and dad only finished their freshman years in high school,” she said.

Her father currently works at a private sand company in Simi Valley. Her mother works part-time at Kohl’s and McDonalds and does house cleaning.

Older brother Omar will be transferring this year from to Cal State Northridge while her younger brother Christopher will be attending .

Bautista has been active in the Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at MHS, which helps prepare students for college life.

She will be attending UC Santa Barbara in the fall and majoring in political science and Spanish.

Bautista is aware of the importance of education and college to her family.

“In my family, I’ll be the second to go to college, and the first to go directly to university," she said. "My parents aren’t strict, but they’re supportive. They never give up on us.”

Her parents' efforts to help their children get a better education have left a lasting impression on her:

“College is a chance to show the world that despite all the adversity we have to go through, you can succeed in this country.”

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