Golden Valley High School

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Student: Samira Casillas 

Year in School: Senior

Plans After High School: Samira will be attending the University of California, Santa Barbara to get her degree in English and after graduating from college, she plans to attend law school. 


What Makes Samira #BulldogSTRONG: One of the behavior expectations of Golden Valley High School is that students commit to showing GROWTH in the community by being a lifelong learner. Being a lifelong learner means that one has a growth mindset and an innate curiosity about the world. The lifelong learner constantly pushes themselves to find more by way of new challenges, ideas, and experiences. The lifelong learner is normally reading books, learning new skills, and honing in on expertise. Perhaps no student at GVHS exemplifies lifelong learning quiet like Bulldog Senior Samira Casillas. One way Samira demonstrates is her love of reading and literature. Samira appreciates the likes of classics from Mary Shelley and So Juan Ines de la Cruz because as female authors, they acted outside of their, broke boundaries, and rebelled against conventions without regard for how others would think of them. “Despite what could be called their rebellious nature, I don’t think this made them any less women,” comments Samira, “If anything I find them inspiration.” The first books that Samira came to love were My Mother’s Secret by J.L. Witterick and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, both historical fiction novels centered in the calamities of World War II. “I read these two books over and over again, I could not get enough of them,” comments Samira. In the Fall of 2022, Samira will continue her love of reading and literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she will be majoring in English. 


1Samira Casillas (Center) will be attending UC Santa Barbara in the Fall where she will be majoring in English. To left of Samira is GVHS Principal, Paul Helman and to the right is Bakersfield Councilman, Eric Arias.


In addition to her love of English, Samira has a fascination with law and order. In the 4th grade, Samira became fascinated with the idea of being a lawyer, finding the intricacies of court cases, juries, and the justice system intriguing. Entering GVHS, Samira’s interest in becoming a lawyer was still prevalent as evident in her decision to join Mock Trial, a competition in which students simulate a real trial. During her time in this academic competition, Samira was the closing attorney for the defense and throughout the process, she learned some invaluable skills to prepare her for a career in law. “During my time in Mock Trial, I gained invaluable insight into what it means to be a lawyer,” comments Samira, “I learned a new level of professionalism, sharpened my public-speaking skills, and learned to work efficiently in a group setting. It also gave me an idea of how a real-life courtroom looks and operates.” After majoring in English at UCSB, Samira hopes to go to law school to fulfill her dream of becoming an attorney and one day a judge in the Courts of Appeal. 


1Samira Casillas (5th in from Left) enjoyed her time as part of the GVHS Mock Trial team as it furthered her interest in wanting to go to law school after UCSB.


However, more than her love of a good book and in being the next great legal practitioner, Samira demonstrates what it means to be a lifelong learner the best in her relentless pursuit of academic excellence. While enrolled in GATE, Honors, Advanced Placement, and Project Lead the Way courses, Samira has accumulated an eye popping 4.5 GPA which places her as first in class along with a few other students at GVHS. For her part, Samira has received a passing score on every AP exam that she has taken: AP European History (3) AP English Language and Composition (4) AP Spanish Language and Composition (4) and AP US History (3). Samira has been part of the California Scholarship Federation since her freshman year. Her academic prowess has been on display as part of SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) a group committed to educate teens about the ill effects of tobacco and vaping. Samira has had speaking engagements at Bakersfield City Council Meetings and at Leaders in Life Conferences and is currently organizing a park clean up at the Rexland Acres Park. For the success Samira has obtained as a Bulldog, she is quick to recognize the effort of the people on the campus of GVHS that have provided her support. “I like Golden Valley High School because of the people I have met there these past four years. I have friends who have helped me immensely to succeed, people who have led me to opportunities I don't think I would have if I went to any other school, and teachers who truly care about their students.” For her love of literature, court and criminal proceedings, and in her relentless pursuit of academic excellence on way to a 4.5 GPA and enrollment at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Samira Casillas is #BulldogSTRONG.   


1  Samira Casillas (2nd from Right) has developed some lifelong friends that have helped her succeed at Golden Valley High School.


What #BulldogSTRONG Means to Samira: "#BulldogSTRONG to me is respecting others and our surroundings. By extension to our community, it also means civic duty. I think we as students have a great capacity to produce positive change in our community if we only try.”


What Teachers and Staff Think of Samira: 

“I have had the joy of working with Samira for the last four years.  She is a great example of #BulldogSTRONG -  A strong analytical thinker,  highly motivated, and always growing as a student.  She takes exceptional pride in her work.  She is also a kind, enthusiastic, cheerful classmate that brightens up class.  She is happy to serve alongside her peers, speaking in front of our City Council, or leading group study sessions.  She has a passion for knowledge.  She is an exceptional engineering student, impressing me with her creativity and work ethic.  She is a wonderful young lady with a bright future ahead.” Judiah Hopkins, AP Physics and Project Lead the Way Teacher, Golden Valley High School


“I had Samira in my English 10 GATE class where her maturity, responsibility, and willingness to help her classmates made her stand out.  Samira came to class every day with a positive attitude and demonstrated growth throughout the year as she worked to improve herself as a writer.  She is a wonderful example of what it means to be #BulldogSTRONG.” Lana King, English Department Chair and WASC Coordinator, Golden Valley High School


“Samira has been such a joy to work with.  She is not only great with mathematical thinking, but she also thinks outside the box and collaborates well with others! I am so excited to watch her move forward in life.  Not only for her next years in college, but after that as she pursues her dreams.” Sheryl Cleveland, Math Department Chair and AP Statistics Teacher, Golden Valley High School


“Perspicacity is the word that comes to mind when I think of Samira. Throughout the school year she demonstrated a keen understanding of the intricacies of the literature presented in class. It is evident that these skills are interdisciplinary because she always found a way of connecting new concepts with previous knowledge in other disciplines. I enjoyed having Samira in class and I wish her the best. Gracias Samira.” Gabriel Flores, AP Spanish Language and Literature Teacher, Golden Valley High School


“I had the privilege of meeting Samira on the first day of her freshman year. Like most freshmen on their first day of school, Samira was quiet and reserved. After a few weeks, it was her kind and inquisitive nature that set her apart. Her questions had purpose and depth as did her answers. Samira was an active participant in Socratic discussions, yet always listened to others’ viewpoints before expressing her own. She excelled in collaborating with her peers as her confidence and leadership blossomed. I have no doubt that Samira will continue to walk #BulldogSTRONG in her future endeavors.” Jamie Contois, English Teacher and ELD Teacher, Golden Valley High School


“Samira is always a positive light in the classroom, always bringing and maintaining a positive attitude. She's attentive and always ready to make thoughtful contributions in the classroom. I can count on her to drive conversations and discussions forward. Her hard work and determination are evident and a sign of the success that is to come. Even as we come to the end of the year and the goal of making it to the AP test has been reached, Samira continues to give 100% of herself. She exemplifies what is to be #BulldogSTRONG!” Alejandra Soto, Long Term Substitute English Teacher, Golden Valley High School


“Samira is truly impressive. She functions on a fine tuned level when it comes time to collaborate, lead, manage, and present information to larger groups. Samira always exudes a calm focused demeanor that purveys throughout the group, organization, or team lucky enough to have her.” Aaron Wright, AP Government Teacher, Golden Valley High School


“Samira is a great example of a #BulldogSTRONG student. I met her earlier in the year when she interviewed to win a scholarship and I was amazed by all the hard work she was doing for the Kern County Department of Health. I got to know her better as the school year progressed and I saw a strong, dedicated student who works hard to be where she is. I know she will conquer whatever she sets her heart to.” Karla Gomez, College and Career Guidance Technician, Golden Valley High School