Santa Ynez salutatorian ready to celebrate with class of 2019
Santa Ynez Valley High School helped shape who Isabella Hartley is today, and she wouldn’t take that back for the world.
The graduating senior will cross the stage today at Pirate Stadium for the final time as a high school student. The salutatorian of the class of 2019 will graduate with a GPA of 4.74, but her work outside of the classroom has meant as much to her as any paper or test she’s completed the past four years.
Earlier this year, Ms. Hartley, 18, was honored with the Santa Ynez Valley Youth in Service Award stemming from her work with the group American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad and the work she’s done in her own backyard.
The group gave her the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic to provide information and supplies to those in need. Ms. Hartley, who will be attending the University of San Francisco Honors College in the fall to study pre-med, told the News-Press the work she completed with AYUDA has had a lasting impact.
“It immediately clicked and sparked this love of the medical field,” she said. “Not necessarily just diabetes, but giving back in that way and getting to spend it with a diverse group of people. You’re always going to have patients from different backgrounds.
“I just feel as though we have that obligation,” she said, when asked what inspires her to do volunteer work. “I think that we need to recognize that living in Santa Barbara County, living in Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara that we have so much and that puts us in a position that it’s our obligation to be in service to others. I think that everyone has a different arena that they can be in service to others through.”
By giving back and helping others, Ms. Hartley has been able to learn more about herself. She said her time at Santa Ynez has been “everything I ever imagined it could be” and is grateful of the strong relationships and bonds she has created. Whether through volunteer work, dance, theater or other areas – Ms. Hartley said her high school years have taught her self-awareness while also allowing herself to be comfortable with who she is.
She was chair of the Theater Club for a time at Santa Ynez and was part of eight theater productions.
After visiting the campus at USF, Ms. Hartley fell in love with the different types of people and unique student body the school offers. She said it should help continue her development, while providing an open mind as she pursues a career in the medical field.
It will be quite the change of pace from the small-town life in Santa Ynez, but it’s a challenge that she is ready to face.
“I think it’s just great for the development of open-mindedness and just an environment I wanted to put myself in,” she said.
Ms. Hartley will be one of some 200 graduates to move their tassels from right to left during today’s ceremony. She is grateful to celebrate graduation with some of her closest friends.
“It will be really special to toss my cap in the air knowing that we’re all there together.”