Bassett High School senior Eric Marquez credits teachers at the school’s Health Academy for helping him discover a deep desire to care for people – inspiration that not only led him to a possible career, but also landed him one of 14 $400 scholarships from the Principal for a Day program.

Marquez, 17, who wants to become a registered nurse, was honored for his dedication to academics by the organization, which is a collaboration among area school districts. He received the award March 16.

“My Health Academy teachers helped me get focused and guided me to the right path,” Marquez said. “I discovered how easy it was to bring my grades up and make up for lost credits when I found my passion.”

Marquez discovered the Health Academy in the eighth grade through his older sister, who was part of the hands-on program. When he saw what it offered her, he grew interested in learning how to give injections, take out stitches and perform ultrasounds.

As a sophomore, Marquez was accepted into the Health Academy, a highly competitive pathway program that offers students the opportunity to earn health certificates and scholarships while delving deeper into medical-related careers.

Marquez traveled to Sacramento for five days to compete against other high schoolers with a community awareness presentation on diabetes as part of the program. He continued to grow through the after-school program Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) as a junior, where he sharpened his health care leadership skills.

During the summer between his junior and senior year, he earned his medical assistant and physical therapy certificates by completing 280 hours of service through two internships with Universal Industrial Care and West Star Physical Therapy.

“After I finish college, I don’t mind what type of nursing I do; I just want to continue working with people,” Marquez said.

Marquez is one of 18 Health Academy students interning with Kaiser Permanente for eight weeks, focusing on head and neck surgeries and urgent care practices.

He hopes to study nursing at West Coast University after high school with the goal of becoming a registered nurse.

The Principal for a Day Scholarship is funded through a collaboration of sponsors that awards $400 to one student from each district high school participating in the all-day event. Two other Bassett Unified students were awarded the scholarship: Blanca Madero from the Bassett Adult School and Tiana Clark from Nueva Vista High School.

Bassett Unified schools have participated in Principal for a Day for more than 30 years. Community leaders replaced the principals at each school where they toured the campuses and learned about their academic and extra-curricular programs. Scholarship students then received their honors at an awards luncheon in front of all principals, principals for a day, superintendents and the community.

“I am proud that our community recognizes the hard work and dedication our students show every day,” Superintendent Alex Rojas said. “Bassett Unified continually expands its programs and opportunities for our students to ensure that they are receiving an enriching, educational experience that will prepare them for college and careers.”


1MARQUEZ: Bassett Unified Superintendent Dr. Alex J. Rojas (left) and Bassett High principal Gabriel Griego (right) presented Bassett High School senior Eric Marquez (center) with a $400 Principal for a Day Scholarship at an awards luncheon on March 16 for his dedication to becoming a registered nurse.