Youth Spotlight: Local student Valeria Lopez keeps conquering challenges | VailDaily.com

Youth Spotlight: Local student Valeria Lopez keeps conquering challenges

Gerry Lopez

"It feels like I have gotten closer and closer to achieving something." These are the words of a natural-born leader: Valeria Lopez, a name that many Eagle Valley High School teachers know due to her work ethic, positive attitude and beautiful smile.

Valeria was born in Mexico, but moved to Colorado when she was just four. She was born without a properly formed hip, which has been a problem for her even today, including bullying.

Valeria has always faced issues due to her hip, but that has not stopped her from trying new things and smiling on a daily basis. In school she loves literature, loves to read, and loves to study for exams. Valeria is a junior at Eagle Valley.

"The best part of school is going and learning more each day and gaining knowledge." Valeria says as she talks to me about her love for school and why she isn't a fan of missing school. Valeria's biggest challenge in school is math. She struggled with this ever since she was in middle school and her parents were informed of her challenge with math, which caused her a tremendous amount of stress.

"Coping with the stress has always been a challenge," she said. As Valeria got older she began to understand how important it was for her to have good grades, complete school and make her parents proud.

"My parents brought me to this country to make a difference." Valeria says. Thanks to her work ethic, positive attitude and support from peers she has overcome her fear of math and being bullied, while also becoming better at managing her stress.

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"I never knew my strength until I faced my struggle," Valeria says as she talks about how she has learned to love challenges, and love herself for who she is and what she looks like. A challenge that Valeria set for herself is to improve her overall health. She challenged herself by trying out for her track team. She has fallen in love with not just running, but whole-body workouts. While still facing issues with her hip she is racing the 400- and 800-meter races, two of the hardest events in track.

One thing that Valeria is passionate about are animals. Being a loving parent of three loving cats — Franco, Sophie, and Ellie — has taught her to be patient, but also has helped her hone her work ethic due to having to change the litter box, take them to the vet, and keeping them on a healthy diet.

"Animals are friends that will stick with you no matter what and not pass criticism," Valeria says.

Having her cats by her side has also helped her stay positive when life gets rough, "My cats have filled all my empty spaces with strength and love. They have helped me by just existing because they somehow give me a reason to keep on going."

She loves animals so much that she even feeds her neighborhood outdoor pets and spends time with them. As Valeria approaches her last year of high school she has already been thinking of her plans for a post-secondary education. She plans to attend Colorado Mountain College to become a veterinarian and continue to provide love and care to as many animals as she can.

I have faith that Valeria will make a huge difference in our community, and wherever she may call home next. I admire her passion to improve herself every day, her tenacity to push forward, her caring heart and her positive attitude. I am more than excited to see what the future has in store for Valeria and the impact she will make in the world.