EDINBURG – One of the newest teachers for the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District has a lot to be grateful for this holiday season. Silvia Perez, the 2016 valedictorian from Economedes High School, has returned to her campus to take on her "dream job" as a teacher.
Four years ago, after being honored as a star student-athlete, Perez said that her dream was to become a math teacher or a coach.
In 2016, RGVSports.com named her the winner of the inaugural Tom Landry Award of Excellence for sportsmanship, character, and service during the 2016 All-Valley Sports Award Banquet. She was also highlighted in an article in the July 25, 2016, issue of Sports Illustrated titled "Faces in the Crowd," which recognized the nation's best up-and-coming amateur athletes.
"I told myself, 'You did it. You're in the Olympics Edition of the Sports Illustrated magazine,'" she said. "I just felt proud."
On the field, Silvia earned 1st Team All-District in basketball, All-District honorable mention in volleyball, and was a regional qualifier in track and field in the shot put.
Off the field, besides being valedictorian, she excelled academically through Edinburg CISD's Early College High School Program, completing 64 college hours and earning an associate degree from South Texas College.
In 2016, Perez admitted that getting to that point in her life had been difficult for her and her family. Her mother lost her battle to cancer during Perez's junior year in high school, so she had to help take care of her family.
"I think she's proud. I would be proud," Perez said. "Everything I do and everything that I receive, I'm like, 'Look, mom. This is for you.'"
Perez is now back at Economedes High School, sitting at a desk. But it's not a student's desk. It's a teacher's desk.
"It was exciting for me. I really like the support from everyone," Perez said. "I'm happy. I'm back."
She said that she's excited to see that her dreams of becoming an educator are now a reality.
"I've always liked math, and I said, 'Okay, I'm going to go into math and maybe help students more on the math side,'" said Perez.
She attended the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, earning a bachelor's degree in mathematics, receiving her teacher certification. She said that she was able to finish in less than four years thanks to the Economedes Early College High School Program.
"I graduated with my associate degree from high school through the early college program, so most of my teachers are my coworkers now, which is crazy," she said.
Her memories are what Perez said keeps her motivated and moving forward in life. Some of her most memorable stories she now shares with her students for inspiration.
"And that's what I try to do just give them stories from my personal life that they can use, and they can relate to," she said. "Because most of my students and I, we come from the same background. So, it's a lot easier for me to communicate with them."
Perez said that she knows that her mother is proud of her for becoming a teacher.
"I think she is smiling down at me and saying, 'I know you are doing this for me. I know you did it, and you are going to keep doing great things.' I think that's what she is thinking about me," Perez said.