Donna High School student Leena Salinas has been chosen to be part of an elite group.
The senior was selected to the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s Class 5A Volleyball Academic All-State Team. Only one other DHS student – Sarah Gonzalez in 2015-2016 — received similar recognition in the last five years. This honorable distinction was based on Salinas’ performance in volleyball and academic excellence.
Salinas said instead of getting excited when she first heard the news, she was terrified. She laughs about it now. “It’s a funny story. At first I got scared because I thought it meant that I was chosen to be part of an all-state team to play volleyball,” Salinas recalled. “I was like ‘oh my gosh. That’s scary.’ I didn’t plan on this but after my coach explained everything, I was really excited.”
Coach Cynthia Viesca nominated Salinas and was thrilled to learn that she received the honor. “We are very honored and excited for her,” Viesca said. “She’s been in the volleyball program for four years and she’s worked really hard to keep her grades up. Our practices would run late and she would have to go home to do her homework. This year, we were sent to Brownsville for four district games. Those were tough nights for her but she was able to get through her classes and get good grades.”
To be considered for this recognition, a student must be a graduating senior, be a member of a high school varsity volleyball team and have an overall Grade Point Average (GPA) of 94 for the first three years of high school. Salinas has a 98.3 GPA. She credits good time management skills that helped her achieve this success.
“I was really strict on time management throughout the whole volleyball season,” Salinas said. “Every time we had a break from our practices or we were travelling, I was really strict on doing my homework. So when I was selected to be on the Volleyball Academic All-State Team, I was ecstatic because all my hard work paid off all these four years. My senior year has been the hardest because I’m taking several AP classes but I learned how to excel by applying time management.”
The senior said her older brother is her role model and believes he helped instill in her a strict work ethic. He was valedictorian of DHS in 2015 and now attends Texas A&M University on a full scholarship. “I was ranked number 10 in my class last year but this year I’m number five,” Salinas said. “The fact that I jumped to five is really a great accomplishment and achievement. Time management has definitely helped me through everything.”
Salinas believes learning time management will also pay off in college. She is undecided on what school she wants to attend but she is considering Texas A&M University. Just recently she attended the institution’s Leadership Initiative Conference where she had the opportunity to learn about the university’s Mays Business School. She is interested in seeking a Business Marketing degree.
“I’m very glad I went to the conference,” Salinas said. “It was business mixed with morality and so the conference speakers not only wanted to instill in us reality, they wanted to help us develop as a person as well as give us some hints for business school.”
In the end, Salinas was impressed. “They weren’t encouraging us to go to A&M,” she said. “They were telling us where ever we go in life, we’re going to be great. We just need to find ourselves first.”