For Guam High School graduate Alexia Brown and Father Duenas Memorial School graduate Matias Calvo, being named the 2019 Shieh Su Ying Female and Male Scholar Athlete of Year, respectively, was an honor and a culmination of their years of hard work.
For 19 years, the Shieh awards have recognized the island’s top high school seniors for outstanding academic achievements, athletic prowess and commitment to the community.
This year was no different, with 11 athletes accumulating thousands of hours of community service and maintaining a 3.99 grade-point average despite a heavy load of advanced placement and honors classes. After hours of deliberation, Dr. Thomas Shieh chose the hardworking duo, saying they were a cut above the rest.
“I am very proud this has gone this long, and (I am) proud (that) our Guam community (has) embraced this award as one of the top recognition for high school graduates,” Shieh said. “I hope, in the future, these scholar-athletes will (pay) it forward and give back to the community.”
Calvo said he was honored to win the award, recognizing the responsibility that comes with being named a Shieh scholar.
"I am also thankful for Dr. Shieh and all he does for the community to help encourage and recognize scholar-athletes," said Calvo, who will be attending Dartmouth College in the fall.
"I feel extremely blessed to be named a Shieh scholar," said Brown, who received a four-year Army ROTC scholarship to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. "I have worked very hard since my freshman year of high school to reach this goal. It feels as if all my hard work and dedication paid off."
Both said they're eager to start their new lives in college.
Calvo, a rugby standout for the champion Friars, will be playing Division I rugby for The Big Green.
Calvo said he expects it to be a rough road and hopes to acclimate to the rigors of collegiate athletics and academics.To prepare, Calvo has been training with the U18 Guam National Team for a tournament in July.
"I follow Dartmouth rugby matches, and I have 'work-ons' from summer evaluations by coaches I am working to improve," he said. "My dream is to make the starting 15 on the rugby team and to eventually come back and play for Guam."
Calvo, who aims to become a lawyer, said his future career still will involve the sports world.
"I want to help athletes and organizations reach their full potential by representing their rights and interests so they can continue to focus on what they love to do," he said.
Calvo will be heading to Dartmouth in mid-August, just in time for rugby training.
He's got some jitters for the upcoming season, he admitted.
"I’m a little nervous for the extreme change in climate, but also excited to find my balance with the next-level academic rigor and rugby program," he said.
Brown, who dreams of being a nurse because she wants to help those who cannot advocate for themselves, said she doesn't plan to play sports at the college level.
"I will not be playing sports at the collegiate level simply because being in the ROTC program and majoring in nursing will take up most of my time during school," she said. "However, I would love to join any clubs for volleyball."
Brown, who leaves Aug. 19, said she can't wait to start her journey, but admits she has a few fears.
"I am very excited yet extremely nervous to begin this new chapter," she said. "I'm excited to be on my own and experience new things, but I'm nervous to be away from family for so long."
Thanking support system
The duo wanted to make sure they thanked the people who made it possible for them to succeed.
"I want to thank my mom and dad for getting me to this point with their endless love and support. I also want to thank my brother for always pushing me in sports to be the best and work hard," Brown said. "I lastly want to thank all my friends who have supported me at all my games and (for) being some of my biggest fans."
Calvo shared similar sentiments as he readies for his new career.
"I just want to thank my entire support system – teachers, coaches, teammates, families – nothing would be possible without them," Calvo said. "Most especially, my parents, because they have been there for me and loved and supported me in everything. I also want to thank my brothers for being the best examples, training partners and friends anyone could ask for."