Meet the Class of 2021 - Vanessa Galvan
Congratulations to Vanessa Galvan, of the Dell City High School Class of 2021! Vanessa became a Cougar at the beginning of her junior year – and Dell City High has been exactly the right place at the right time in her life. Vanessa said the school and the community have provided the perfect environment for her to discover herself, and to come “out of her shell” – and into her own.
Vanessa moved to Pine Springs in 2019 to live with her father Armando, and step-mother Angelica – She'd spent time in Dell City throughout her life – her grandparents, Antonino and Maria Elena Galvan, live here – but until junior year, she'd gone to school in Deming, N.M. and Weatherford, Texas.
The transition from a big school to a small one wasn't difficult, however. Vanessa said the small school, and the individual attention teachers provide here, were just what she'd been waiting for.
“I was never the girl for big schools,” Vanessa said. “I was more of the solo person in my school, so when I came to Dell City, and there were fewer people, I felt better.
“There are more things the teachers are willing do for you here,” she said. “In a big school, there are so many people to pay attention to, and you can't focus on one student. Here I have more attention given – there are more people willing to talk to me and keep pushing me to go forward with my life.”
There's no mistaking that Vanessa is a creative soul, and art is her love. She's explored several media, but digital art – and, specifically, illustrating in a program called Procreate – is her current focus. She creates “fan art” inspired by various fictional worlds – and she's honing her technical skills, with an eye to anatomy. She plans to turn her work into “wearable art,” on T-shirts, charms and other accessories – and she's laying the foundations for that business now. Her work already has a following on the social media platform TikTok.
“I've always enjoyed creating things,” Vanessa said, “and my main dream is to have work with my digital art.”
Vanessa said that, before her time in Dell City, she was “the people-pleaser type of person.” But here she's connected with her own interests, her own style. She said her family, and the school and community, have helped nurture a new confidence.
Vanessa is a self-described introvert, with a shy streak. And in the past, dyslexia has made reading – and speaking in public – challenging. That's changed in Dell City.
“My parents have been helping me to get out more, and talk more,” she said. “Without them, I wouldn't even be able to do this interview right now. They've brought me around – and it's been fun here.”
Dell City School teachers have played an important role, Vanessa said. Teachers elsewhere had become impatient, or even angry, when she found public speaking to be a challenge. That wasn't the case here.
When she first arrived, Vanessa found two Dell City teachers especially “intimidating,” she said: English teacher and coach Trever Czubinski – Coach T – and history teacher and Athletics Director Joe Czubinski – Coach Ski. But that feeling of intimidation faded as she got to know them.
Reading in front of fellow students in English class was initially stressful. Coach T helped change that.
“At first, I would stumble over my words,” she said, “and whenever I had trouble, he was like, 'Take your time – it's okay.' And I was very grateful for that. He's the one that made me get out of my shell.”
And as Coach T and Vanessa worked one-on-one in virtual instruction this year, she saw a different side of him. Without a full class to keep in line, he was more relaxed, Vanessa said. And one day during an online session, a package was delivered to Coach T's classroom. He opened it with great excitement. Vanessa guessed it might be a pair of sunglasses, or a new shirt. The delivery – a package of Scentsy scented candles – didn't fit Vanessa's expectations.
“I never knew he liked that kind of stuff,” Vanessa said. “I'm not as intimidated by him anymore – but I do respect him a lot.”
Vanessa said Coach Ski has been an important mentor, both in the classroom, and in sports. He encouraged Vanessa to join the volleyball team last year, and she said she was very glad she did.
Coach Ski and his fellow coaches “worked her butt off” in volleyball, she said. But the sense of camaraderie among the players and coaches was a great reward. Vanessa became friends with her teammates – especially last year's seniors Hunter Wilson, Maxine Burford and Kassandra Acosta.
Vanessa was the only student in Coach Ski's government class this year, and, again, she said the one-on-one instruction was special.
“He would help me out with everything,” Vanessa said. “Whenever I would get something wrong, he would make a joke about it. It's crazy to think – teachers in front of a whole classroom have a responsibility, but when it's just one-on-one with a student, they don't have to be so tense, especially if they know the student is going to behave, and follow the rules.”
Vanessa was also inspired in her classes with math teacher Clement Boakye. Mr. B has high expectations, she said, and he helped her discover that she likes the subject.
“I never knew how much I enjoyed math,” Vanessa said. “It's problem solving, going step by step, and you finally get your answer – and I enjoy the process of doing that.”
The pandemic has disrupted life for all students – and particularly for this year's and last year's senior classes. But Vanessa said it's also created opportunities. She wasn't especially disappointed that prom, for example, couldn't be held this year or last – she and her fellow senior, Tristan Smetak, were able to use the funds they'd raised for prom to buy caps and gowns, and senior rings.
And she said that studying remotely has taught her “how to think on [her] feet.” She's had to learn to manage her own time, to keep herself on schedule – and to become independent.
As graduation has drawn nearer, Vanessa's feelings about leaving high school, and entering a new phase in her life, have changed. Initially, she said, she was scared – “clinging to [her] parents, not wanting to go.” Increasingly, she's excited about it.
In addition to her schoolwork, Vanessa has been working part-time – cleaning the TxDOT offices in Pine Springs and Dell City. She's saved money, and used it to buy things for herself. The experience, she said, has given her confidence about work and finances.
“My parents say they're very proud,” she said, “because they know that when I get out there, I'm not going to be spending my money like crazy.”
It's also given her a taste for personal responsibility – and she said she's grateful her parents have encouraged that.
“Over time, when they slowly give you your independence, you crave more of it,” she said.
Congratulations, Vanessa, on graduation – we'll be excited to see your artwork, and everything you do in the next stage of your life!