Maria Mendoza, 17, Bothell High School senior

School leader: Has been involved in student body leadership since middle school and this year is Bothell High School’s ASB president. “I just choose to be really active and dedicated. This past year at Bothell, I’ve really found my passion for leadership.”

Ms. Smile: Enjoys making others smile and have a good day. “I try to say ‘Hi’ to people, smile and wave.” For two months earlier in the year, she greeted students as they arrived on campus, handing out cookies. “If I can make somebody have a good day, then my day is good as well.”

Finding time for herself: Lately has been learning that taking care of herself is important, too. “It’s all about balance.”

Early riser: Comes to school at 6:45 each morning, in part to beat traffic.

Other activities: Has played volleyball and served on the school’s Reducing All Prejudice, or RAP, committee. Also is a board member for the Washington Association of Student Councils.

Academics: Takes senior English, ASB, senior American issues and pre-calculus. Also takes a two-period Teaching Academy, when she heads to Crystal Springs Elementary School to help teach fifth-graders.

Future teacher: Wants to be a teacher, preferably at the high school level, having admired her teachers the past three years. “I feel I’ve learned a lot here at Bothell, so I want to lean that direction.”

Just right: Enjoys the fifth-graders at Crystal Springs, which she says is just the right age – old enough to get her jokes but not so old that they’re “too cool.”

In training: As a teacher’s aide at the elementary, she checks papers, escorts kids to computer lab, reads with them and teaches some math and business lessons. “It’s been tons of fun.”

Career switch: Initially thought she might want to be a lawyer. “I talk a lot and like to argue.” But leadership classes changed her mind. “Just with helping people, being a teacher is one of the most powerful ways I can do so.”

Hidden hobby: Enjoys baking treats for her classmates. “It’s kind of nerdy but I like it. Sometimes I’ll watch the Food Channel more than anything else.”

Heroes: Has two older brothers who passed on words of wisdom and kept an eye on her growing up. “I look up to them a lot. … Family is a big part in my life.”

College plans: Heading to Western Washington University for its teacher education program.

Ready to move on: “I think I’ve had senioritis probably since my sophomore year.”

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