LIBERTY — Blue Jay Jaqueline Torres-Gomez is a community-minded, service-oriented nursing student hopeful who has found her spotlight can come in many different ways.
The Liberty High School graduate was a four-year member of Key Club and serves as secretary. Key Club members offer acts of service and volunteerism in their schools and communities. In partnership with their local Kiwanis club, high school students are making a positive impact.
“With Key Club, we have to have a total of 40 hours of service,” she explained. “We just had a blood drive and I helped with that. In October, we did some pumpkin carving. Plus, the club has also been active with the BackSnack packs for other schools in the district.”
Torres-Gomez said she is also proud of her time with the school’s color guard. She was a member for two years and a section leader, busy performing at games and competitions. She lettered in varsity color guard and academics.
“I went to Heritage Middle School and then moved right before high school,” she said. “I was unsure of myself, but eventually I threw myself somewhere and found being part of the color guard team means so much. I have teammates who are a second family.”
Her decade-plus time spent dancing also added to her skills on color guard, she said.
“I have been at Studio 10 for more than 10 years,” she explained. “I enjoy dancing. It’s a release for me.”
At Liberty High School, Torres-Gomez worked to complete the A+ program. This year, she was also a volunteer in the counselor’s office, essentially serving as a teacher’s aide.
“I have been taking dual credits as well,” she said. “I took a medical Spanish class through Missouri State, which I really enjoyed.”
She would like to attend William Jewell College and study nursing.
“As a matter of fact, last year, I took my certified nursing assistant programming through the Excelsior Springs Career Center, handled the clinical practicum and took the state exam,” Torres-Gomez said. “I am a certified nursing assistant and work a part-time job at Our Lady of Mercy Country Home.”
At the career center, Torres-Gomez was part of the National Technical Honor Society last year after maintaining an A average in all her certified nursing program courses. The CNA said she received help from teacher Christa Peck, who the grad has known since middle school.
“Ms. Peck has stood by my side,” she said. “She helped me with assignments. I also appreciate language teacher Astrid Ruiz. She is like a second mom. I met her my freshman year. She helped me get into the medical Spanish class. There are residents at Our Lady who are bilingual and I have been able to help translate.”
Torres-Gomez has her Bi-Literacy Seal as well. The certificate is presented to students who graduate with a proficiency in two languages based on an assessment each individual can opt to take.
“Returning to the classroom full time in the final few weeks of school was a blessing, she said.
“I get to see more friends that I haven’t seen,” she said. “That’s the wonderful thing, … the friendships you make. I would tell incoming freshmen to go with the flow. You can plan, but you can’t plan too far ahead. Try as many things as you can. For example, I didn’t do color guard first two years, but I found I really liked it. I learned a lot as a team member. Now as one of five seniors graduating, I feel like we are leaving the team in a good spot through our leadership and we have worked hard to accomplish that. They will continue forward.”
Speaking of those younger students, Torres-Gomez has participated in a program called LINK, which helps eighth-graders transition into high school.
“We did different events throughout the year. For example, we did wired up Wednesdays. That was when freshmen could come in and ask questions about any homework they had,” she explained.
Torres-Gomez received a KC Scholars award last year, totaling $50,000 for five years of college.
“I am a first-generation college student,” she said. “My parents are supportive and I have to set a good example for my two younger brothers.”