Senior Spotlight: Isabella Sanchez is salutatorian of the class of 2023

Isabella Sanchez(MEDINA VALLEY HS — May 24, 2023) — At the age of five, Isabella Sanchez’s parents knew she was destined for greatness.

Isabella is salutatorian, graduating second in the Medina Valley High School class of 2023. After graduation, she plans to study literature in English at Yale University. 

Nancy Sanchez said her daughter has always wanted to go to the ivy league school, and she was confident she could make it happen.

“She knew she wanted to go to Yale for many, many years, and I said, ‘Mom can’t afford it but if you give it your best, you can do it,” she said. “That’s what we’ve always told our children — you can go anywhere.”

Sanchez described her daughter as a humble, kind and a thoughtful person who pays attention to detail and is self-driven. 

“This was her work and effort — not mine,” she said. “I didn’t have to tell her to study. Sometimes I’d tell her, ‘That’s enough. You’ve got it.”

Medina Valley High School Principal Tanner Lange said Isabella is one of the hardest working students. 

“She has one of the best work ethics I have seen in the past 18 years,” he said. “She has been able to persevere through difficult times in her life and continues to excel in her academics and extracurricular activities.”

One of those difficult moments was losing her father to COVID-19 in 2021. Through the grief, Isabella’s mother was concerned about how this would affect her daughter. 

During this time, Isabella said, she learned to set boundaries. 

“At the beginning of my junior year, I tried to take on way too much. I was going through major loss in my family and between school and extracurriculars, I had reached my limit,” she said. “I had to learn that there’s only so much I can do. I learned to take it one day at a time.”

Still, Isabella was in student council, the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (a math honor society), Science Olympiad and she participated in the Literary Criticism and Ready Writing UIL teams. Outside of school, she also volunteers at the Castroville Public Library.

Even though her mother says she always wanted to go to Yale, Isabella said she questioned whether she could get in. 

“Contrary to what she said, I wasn’t really sure that was where I wanted to go or even that it was a possibility for me,” she said. “When I started looking at colleges … I found the QuestBridge program. I was like, ‘OK, why not. It doesn’t hurt if I don’t make it. I can always try and shoot my shot — throw my hat in the ring.” 

When she learned she was accepted in December 2022, she said she did not expect it but was thrilled to first tell her mother. 

“Honestly, it’s a combination of wanting to make my family proud, of course,” she said. “Whenever I see something I want, it’s always just, ‘I can do it!’ If I put enough work and effort in, I know I can get there eventually. I just have the drive.”