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Immigrant tops Sierra grad class
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Leonor Borges will be the first person in her family to go to college.

And she’ll stick close to home, and family, when it comes to pursuing a career in the field of nursing.

The Portugal native, who migrated to the United States from the Azores with her parents when she was only four, said that she plans on attending Stanislaus State University in Turlock in the fall.

Adapting to a college workload should be a breeze for Sierra’s top performing academic student that said she functioned her entire senior year – which was rife with advanced placement courses – spectacularly despite staying up every night until 2 a.m. working on homework and assignments.

“Balancing your time is the most important thing, I suppose,” she said. “It’s important to make sure that you’re doing all of the things you need to do and getting sleep is important, but I didn’t do a lot of that this year.

“I tried to focus on one thing at a time. If you had to pick one thing, that’s really the only one that’s required – if you can’t stay on one topic and study then you’re going to do well on it.”

Borges was able to overtake salutatorian Anna Cardenas (4.3 GPA) for the class’ top spot thanks to an extra AP class that gave her a bump. Borges took 11 of the classes during high school – AP and honors courses that add an additional grade point because of their perceived difficulty – to Cardenas’ 10.

It wasn’t easy for her either.

While most people take things like high speed internet access for granted and can’t function without a Wi-Fi signal, Borges said that a lot of times she was forced to do research at the library because her family’s computer wasn’t connected to the Internet.

Conveying the magnitude of the work she was undertaking to her immigrant parents also presented a set of challenges, but she said she’s looking forward to being able to give back to them once she graduates from college and lands that first full-time job.

“It means that I can give back to them,” she said. “It’s something that I needed to want in order to succeed at. Sometimes I didn’t have the resources that other students have, and with my parents being foreign sometimes its hard to get those points across.

“ I look forward to the future and everything that it brings. I look forward to the challenges.”

Leonor Borges is the daughter of Ricardo and Marie Borges.