2017-05-25 / Schools

SENIOR STANDOUTS • LA REINA


Rice Rice Editor’s note: Senior standouts are selected by their respective schools, and profiles are compiled from questionnaires filled out by the students.

Deanna Rice

Don’t be fooled by the robots. Deanna Rice is all heart.

Not only has the La Reina graduate won 45 awards in robotics at the local, state and world levels, she also created “Hands for Good,” a club that produces 3-D prosthetic hands for children with missing hands or fingers.

Her love for science landed her a spot at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts in the fall.

“My goal is to help not only improve the world, but change it for the better,” she said.

The daughter of Linda and Mike Rice, Deanna said she ultimately hopes to earn a doctorate. But she won’t have to go it alone. She says her father has been a constant support every step of the way.


Lamia Lamia “Even when I am struggling and do not want to continue, he encourages me to never give up,” she said. “He has been my cornerstone and I know that I can always rely on him.”

Deanna has her eyes set on working at SpaceX, Google or Northrop Grumman after college.

Juliana Lamia

Look out Broadway, Juliana Lamia is coming for you.

The actress and singer has starred in roles as different as Glinda in “The Wizard of Oz” and Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” And as the 18-year-old prepares to enter one of the top-ranked musical theater programs in the country at Texas State University, her credits are sure to grow.

Juliana said her passion for the performing arts is about more than playing pretend. She said art helps make sense of the world.


S. Mendez S. Mendez “The arts resonate with the human condition, allowing people to become informed, entertain or even to forget for a little while about the problems that face our world,” she said.

But Juliana, the daughter of Rhonda and Chris Lamia, didn’t get this far on her own. Her mother, she said, has been a fixture in the front row of all of her performances. Even as she flew across the country on college auditions, her mom kept her grounded.

“I swear that woman is superwoman!” she said. “I will never be able to thank her for all that she’s given me.”

Sarah Mendez

Don’t ever start an argument with Sarah Mendez. The 18-year-old was the captain of La Reina’s speech and debate team. Her prowess behind the podium won her a scholarship to Cal Lutheran in the fall, but her academic adventure is unlikely to stop there.


Ye Ye As the captain of the varsity lacrosse team, who also serves as a campus minister, Sarah has set high hopes for the future. She said 10 years from now, she sees herself practicing pediatric medicine.

“Most importantly, I’d like to see the Dodgers win a World Series,” said Sarah, the daughter of Tamara and Albert Mendez.

Even after she leaves La Reina, Sarah said, the lessons she learned there will last her a lifetime, especially the ones from her calculus teacher, Stan Hirsch.

“He taught me to love learning and keep going even when the problem seems impossible,” she said.

Sarah said her biggest influence has been her father.

“The most important thing he has taught me is self-respect. As long as I have respect for myself and my actions, I can and will make it happen.”


C. Mendez C. Mendez Kelly Ye

Since Kelly Ye came to the United States as a freshman four years ago, she’s learned a lot.

She credits her music teacher, Heidi Vass, with being a mentor, role model and idol.

“The words ‘ thank you’ would be so pale for everything she has done for me, and there is nothing I can ever do to be able to match what she has done in this part of my journey,” Kelly said.

The 19-year-old will attend Westminster Choir College, a small music conservatory in New Jersey, this fall. She will major in music education with a minor in physics, but the singer said she’s not sure what the future holds.

“There is a part of me wanting to achieve something really big, but also another part of me wanting to be the person who tries to take care of those left behind by the society,” she said. “But no matter what career or life I end up with, I wish I can, with my best, bring to this world my lights and love.”

Kelly is the daughter of Suyang Xie and Zhong Ye.

Cameron Mendez

Duck and cover, because Cameron Mendez is getting ready to break the glass ceiling. The 18-year-old debate team member has set her sights on the business world.

“I can definitely see myself living in a metropolitan city as I dominate the world as a strong Latina businesswoman,” she said.

Cameron said all of her teachers at La Reina, from math to religion, have given her a helping hand along the way.

“It didn’t feel like a school, as odd as that sounds,” she said. “It felt like a home and a place to prosper and grow.”

Her teachers aren’t the only people she has to thank. She said her parents, Tamara and Albert Mendez, have pushed her to be her best self.

“They have sacrificed to amazing lengths and have worked so hard to provide me with rich opportunities and made sure I always had a reason to laugh and smile widely,” Cameron said. “I am beyond grateful.”

Along with her twin sister, Sarah, the lacrosse athlete will attend Cal Lutheran on a full ride scholarship in the fall.

Dawn Megli-Thuna

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