SAN ANTONIO – Samuel Garcia Villar dealt with huge change in his life early on. At the age of five, he and his family moved from Colombia to Virginia.
He said did not know any English and that the adjustment was difficult.
“There weren’t too many latinos like myself, and we were definitely the racial minority,” he said.
Garcia Villar said advice his parents gave him came in handy at a time when things seemed to be challenging.
“(They said to) make the most out of every opportunity that’s present to me,” he said.
His family eventually settled in the Alamo City and he will soon be graduating from Ronald Reagan High School. Garcia Villar will be the first in his family to graduate in the United States.
“I worked hard, and I will be able to join my classmates and received that recognition,” he said.
The senior has been involved in several extracurricular activities, which include cross country, Eagle scouts and the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio.
Recently, he received the rare honor as a Presidential Scholar semi-finalist.
“The top prize is to be selected as one of the 160 seniors to visit the White House,” Garcia Villar said.
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars recognizes the achievements of students across the country each year.
Although Garcia Villar was not selected, he believes it does not define his dedication to his academics.
“My purpose of working isn’t to be a presidential scholar, but it’s to make the most of what I’ve been given and serve others,” he said.
Garcia Villar plans to attend the University of Chicago after graduation. Soon after, he hopes to serve a church mission so he can continue to serve people around the world.
Garcia Villar said he credits his family for his success.
“I am the continuation of efforts that have been happening for many generations,” he said.