Class of ’21 Senior Spotlight: Octavio Moreno

Name, city of residence:

Octavio Moreno, Capitola

Grade you started at MMS:

Ninth grade

What inspires you?

What really inspires me is having people who are already inspired around me; being around passionate people helps me to grow as an individual and have productive conversations.

What is your favorite subject in school, and why?

This is a difficult question, but I would have to say that my favorite class is Values. It’s not necessarily because of the content or the things we’re exploring in that class, but more so because I’m drawn to asking a lot of questions. Asking questions about the more human problems we all face is something I find really interesting, and it helps me to approach my other classes in unique ways. Values offers a unique opportunity to dive into the way we ask questions and why we ask questions – it allows me to be the most curious person I can be.

If you had the power to change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I think one thing I would change is language barriers. I think having a universal way to communicate and effectively understand one another, regardless of our backgrounds, would allow us to have a much more holistic view of what the fundamental truths of society are, and why these truths matter. Eliminating language as a barrier would encourage a lot of growth, a lot of new technologies, and a lot of change in the ways we think.

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

I would go to the village my grandmother grew up in, near Oaxaca. She immigrated to the United States from her village about 45 years ago. I’ve been there once, but I wasn’t fluent in Spanish at the time, and I’ve grown a lot since then. It would be a very special experience to go and meet the people in her village. Seeing where she came from, and being able to connect with that and the side of my family that lives there would be very special for me – especially now, as I am getting ready to go off to college and create my own life.

Name one big challenge in your life right now:

As much as I have an idea of what I would like to do in the future, what remains a big challenge for me is making the right decision. Within the context of the question, “What am I going to do in the future?” there is not exactly a right answer, and there is a lot of pressure there, too. One of the biggest issues I’m facing right now is grappling with what decisions I can make that will have the best result for my future. That’s the biggest issue I’m facing – what are the steps I need to follow to make the best choice for myself?

During quarantine what have you done to keep yourself busy, or for fun? Have you started new hobbies or anything interesting due to the pandemic?

With COVID, you have a lot more time on your hands, especially when we weren’t in-person at MMS. One of the biggest things that I have realized during this time is that physical health is an extremely important component of my life. It allows me to think more clearly, work more efficiently, and feel better. It’s definitely one of the things I’ve picked up – working out more, and focusing on how I can stay healthy as a person. I have definitely realized that physical and mental health are important – as is going outside! Going on hikes, going to the ocean, going to places that aren’t just inside your home…all these things have helped me to stay in a good place and feel better throughout this period.

What is your dream job and why?

I think my dream job is to help people, whatever that may be. I want to be a first responder. I’ve had many people close to me be affected by the environment, by catastrophes, by their houses burning down and having to leave California. It’s a personal thing for me; it’s not that I want to be a firefighter because firefighters are cool, but because I actually want to solve a problem and that problem has directly affected me. I look at what I love to do and what problems are facing my community, and in combining those two things together, that equals my dream job.

What are your three favorite things? 

Getting things done is one of the things I love. The sensation of finishing something, completing a project, especially when faced with adversity, is something that I really love.

Human interaction is another. I think one of the things I have realized through COVID is that having people to talk to, to bounce ideas off of, to converse with about interesting things, is what drives me to be better, to succeed, and to build relationships.

My family and my friends – the people I hold close – are one of my favorite things. To have people that stick through whatever problems arise and seeing that these people care about who you are as an individual is really something special.

Favorite book:

One of my favorite books is Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki. This book had a large impact on me. It offers a different perspective to life than a lot of other books do, and it shows how the decisions the main character makes help him to evolve over time. It made me think a lot, and made me ask a lot of questions about myself and what I like to do, who I hang out with, and how I respond to situations.

What do you want to do after high school?

I think this is an interesting question, especially right now with the current landscape of COVID. I’m trying to get into fire programs, because I want to be a firefighter. I want to explore all my options first, especially since knowing what is going to happen is so uncertain right now. However, what I do know for sure is that I want to get into a really good fire program. One of the major reasons for this is a mentor of mine, a retired fire captain, who is a role model for me.

Something that you are proud of – and why:

I am proud of our transition to sustainable energy. As we move forward, we will see even more of a transition, but I think a lot of people are beginning to understand that sustainable energy is an asset to our world. I’m proud of how people are standing behind it, believing in it, and defending its worth.

Something that makes you smile:

I’ve always been creative, and I think seeing people’s art, especially things like jewelry and handmade crafts, makes me smile. Knowing how much time goes into creating it, how much time people take to learn their craft and focus on every single detail of a piece, and ultimately seeing how much joy it brings them when it is done, makes me smile.

A favorite MMS memory – and why?

The Ramayana! from two years ago was one of the most impactful performances I have ever been a part of. What was really awesome for me about that Ramayana! was having that final moment at the end, where everyone was standing up, clapping, crying…everyone was so happy, and the whole room was filled with emotions. Everyone was so proud of what they accomplished, and everyone understood the work that went into making it happen and what it took to get there. It’s one of the most beautiful memories I have to this day.

Top three most played songs on your favorite playlist: 

“Control” by Aaron Taos; “Time to Pretend” by MGMT; and “On Top” by Flume.

Any final thoughts?

A piece of advice: if you have an idea and you think it is possible, attempt it. If you fail, the worst thing that will happen is you will learn from it.

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Alumna Lexi Julien (’15) interviewed Octavio for this spotlight feature.

After graduating from UCLA in 2019, Lexi moved back to Santa Cruz and has been working at UCSC as an academic advisor for the past two years. In the fall, she will be moving on to attend law school at NYU.