“In my family, we say that education is powerful, it’s a powerful tool to have,” said Jesus “Ralphie” Quiroz.
He took that saying seriously. The Patagonia Union High School co-salutatorian said he felt like “hard work paid off” when he found out that he would be honored as one of the top students in his class.
“All four years I’ve been striving to be the best and, I mean, I wasn’t the best best, but I got there,” he laughed.
Outside of school, Quiroz’s family also served as an inspiration.
“I’ve been in agriculture all my life,” he said. “Both my grandparents came from Mexico, and they’ve always been cowboys and ranchers over there and they came over here and did the exact same thing.”
That background helped Quiroz find his way to 4-H and the Future Farmers of America club at PUHS.
“I’ve been an officer (for FFA) all four years, so I’ve been helping (to) raise money and support the chapter and get the name out there in the community.”
Through FFA he participated in competitions around the state, and with 4-H he traveled to Kentucky for a national livestock convention.
Quiroz, who is the oldest of three children, counted on his parents’ support.
“From taking me to FFA trips, like five o’clock in the mornings to the fairgrounds to meet up with the bus, or getting home at midnight from an athletic program or awards banquet, they’ve always supported me and always been there for me,” he said.
He said that he tries to pass on some wisdom to his younger siblings: “When you think it’s a good time to just slack off and not try your hardest is when it comes to bite you back.”
Quiroz learned that lesson in his sophomore year when he struggled in a math class. “I might’ve not asked for help as much as I should have, and my grades showed it a little bit.”
But the snag didn’t hold him back for long – he joined the National Honors Society, and was involved in the PUHS student council.
“My family’s always been hard workers,” he said. “None of them have gone to college and I want to be the first one to go to college.”
That dream is starting to look real for Quiroz, who will head to the University of Arizona to study business management, with a focus on sports.
“I’ve always been a small-town boy,” he said. “Now I’m going to UA which is one of the bigger schools in the nation so now it’s like, it’s a huge step but I think I’m ready for it.”