Pitman High School senior Laci Rojas is 16 years old, the picture of a bright future with beauty, intelligence, and most importantly, bravery.
Last weekend Laci Rojas competed in the California state-level round of Distinguished Young Women (DYW) in Bakersfield — the culmination of 10 days of rehearsals, hard work and what she called a life-changing experience.
But Laci Rojas almost never even competed at the state-qualifying Turlock DYW in March, which she was named Distinguished Young Woman of Turlock and earned a $850 scholarship.
Her beloved father Craig Rojas passed away in January but through her love for him and the support of her mom, Jennifer Rojas, family, and friends, Laci Rojas bravely carried on, knowing her father was looking down on her bursting with pride for his beautiful daughter.
“I almost didn’t compete in Turlock round but I knew my dad would want me to do it,” said Laci Rojas. “He always encouraged me to take any opportunities that came my way.”
Her father was a long time Turlock Unified School District employee and was a big-hearted jovial man who loved the San Francisco 49ers, singing and barbecue.
Laci Rojas was his sweetheart and she made her father proud at the California DYW competition.
At the competition Laci Rojas performed a ballet dance for her talent, which she had perfected over 14 years as a student and now instructor at Turlock’s Backstage Academy of Dance.
DYW participants are judged on scholastics, self-expression via an on-stage interview question, fitness and talent.
Although years of being on stage performing dance had prepared her for the talent and fitness categories, self-expression was a topic she was nervous for, yet she carried on.
Her question was if she could develop a non-profit what would it be and how would it benefit society.
Laci Rojas explained that she would set up a dance program for disadvantaged youth and it would teach them about fitness and develop confidence and self-esteem. Something Laci Rojas has certainly learned in her life.
The impressive young lady is enrolled in several AP classes at Pitman and carries a 4.25 GPA.
Although she didn’t win the competition or scholarship money Laci Rojas will never regret a second of her experience.
“It was so much fun meeting the other girls and I feel like in those 10 short days I know everything about them and they are like sisters to me now,” said Laci, who also built a close relationship with a host-family in Bakersfield.
She said she plans to return to the competition next year as a “has been” just to reunite with her fellow participants and meet new DYW. She hopes to recruit other juniors from Pitman to compete.
Laci plans to attend Fresno State, Sacramento State or University of California, San Diego, and become a pediatrician in the future.