skip to main content
Erik Ruiz and Mariana De Leon Accepted to Harvard back button

Two SMJUHSD students may soon pick up Massachusetts accents after receiving acceptance letters from Harvard!

The students are Erik Ruiz of Pioneer Valley High School and Mariana De Leon of Santa Maria High School. They have excelled academically, performed community service and mastered leadership skills inside and outside of the classroom.

Ruiz, who has been accepted on a full-ride scholarship, has a 4.67 grade point average. He’s racked up 258 hours of community service, is a Link Crew Leader and President of the California Scholarship Federation and Key Club.

“I am leaning on attending at this moment, but I am going to wait and see what happens,’’ Ruiz said. “Regardless, it’s a very humbling accomplishment to be lucky enough to be accepted. I believe this accomplishment validates the struggle my parents, grandparents, and community have made. It’s not only my goal but everyone else’s to make sure the sacrifices people have made for us pay off.’’

Principal Shanda Herrera described Ruiz as: “a model student who is kind and well-liked by his classmates. We are so proud to have Erik as one of this year’s 2017 graduates.’’

De Leon, who has a 4.5 grade point average, is the ASB President, SMHS FFA (Future Farmers of America) Vice President, former member of the 2015 State and National Champion Milk Quality & Dairy Products Team among other positions.

“I’m excited to be around the diverse population of Harvard students,’’ said De Leon, adding she arrives at the university the first week of August. “I plan to join the Minority Recruitment group to help others and join the Harvard Student Government and apply what I leaned from ASB here. I want to enjoy the beautiful east coast scenery and campus.

This year has been awesome! I made tons of memories, from filling out college and financial aid applications to competing in girls’ basketball and FFA activities. I’m looking forward to graduation and putting a cap on high school.’’

Principal Joe Domingues said: “Mariana daily has the commitment to succeed in and out of the classroom. Her dedication to achieve the best is what makes her amazing.’’

Some notable Harvard graduates are Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy.

NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. The SMJUHSD does not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, ethnic group identifications, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital, family or parental status, medical condition, military or veteran status, nationality, national origin, immigration status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws respectively. Not all bases of discrimination will apply to both education services and employment. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, immediately contact the District’s Discrimination, Equity and Title IX Compliance Officer Mr. Kevin R. Platt at 2560 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 922-4573 or You may request a copy of SMJUHSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, Non-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies or click here.