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Orange Blossom Queen contributes to Lindsay’s future

Orange Blossom Queen contributes to Lindsay’s future

Mariana Gutierrez, the 2018 Orange Blossom Festival Queen, emphasizes need for Lindsay natives to come back and be a benefit to their community

@TheSunGazette

LINDSAY – It is a tale as old as time: kids from small towns want to leave their home in the dust and strike out on their own in the big city. But that is not the case for 2018’s Orange Blossom Festival Queen, Mariana Gutierrez. Instead, she believes she has a duty to come back, and give back, in order to help the next generation coming out of Lindsay find success.

There are plenty of ways to help Lindsay, but the way Mariana is helping her fellow residents is by pursuing her goal of becoming a pre-diabetes/diabetes wellness coach. Since she graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay with her Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology last fall as cum laude, she has started shadowing the health coach with the Lindsay Diabetes Project.

“I have a passion for this type of work because I had a support system when I was growing up, and I want to help people get the type of support I had in Lindsay,” Mariana said. “It always feels right to give back to your community.”

Of course, diabetes prevention is just her way of helping, but what is fundamentally important is her resolve toward helping others. While she seems concrete in her goal to help Lindsay rise up, it took some time out of the classroom to get there, starting with her freshman year of college.

In her first year CSUMB, after graduating from Lindsay High School in 2013, she worked as a summer bridge intern for the Education Opportunity Program where she helped incoming freshmen bridge the gap between high school and college. During the summer of her second year of college, she became a summer program mentor for Upward Bound Trio, also at CSUMB. There she guided high school students through their college credit courses, gave advice and planned daily activities for six weeks.

“Helping incoming freshmen with home to college transitions was an eye-opening experience. I saw so much of myself in their experiences,” Mariana said.

“Growing up with four sisters showed me the meaning of friendship, leadership and the power for girls motivating each other,” Mariana said.

Pushing herself and others is nothing new to this year’s Queen. Mariana was a three-sport athlete in high school, excelling at volleyball as a captain, soccer again as a captain and swimming. As a senior, she earned her team’s “Best Attacker” award in volleyball. And out of all her memories in sports, she says winning Valley takes the cake.

“My most memorable moment when participating in all sports would be when I was a part of the first girls soccer team to win the CIF Central Section Valley Championship for Division V in 2013,” Mariana said.

But sports is not just about winning. To Mariana, it is also about all the skills she has taken with her as a result of being involved. She says she learned to be a team leader, work hard, practice and balance from her mom. In fact, she believes it was that type of hard work and the people who instilled work ethic into her that helped her be noticed and selected as queen.

“I want to be queen to show that it is good to come back to your community and show the next generation that is going to college and coming back is a great thing for role models.”

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