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BRIGHT FUTURES — Memorial senior Alaya Riles’ future aspirations center on helping others

Alaya Riles knew her future involved helping others after watching her paternal grandmother lose a battle with Lupus when she was 6.

“Since that day, I knew my focus was to help other people’s loved ones to not feel the same pain I felt after losing someone so dear to my heart,” Riles said. “That’s when I chose nursing because I believe in helping others when they aren’t able to assist themselves.”

The Port Arthur native turned her heartache into action. Once she hit high school, Riles began pursuing a career in nursing and healthcare.

The 18-year-old joined the Career and Technology Education health science class as a sophomore and steadily gained knowledge and confidence.

Regina Bellard, Practicum of Health Science teacher at Memorial High School, saw the fighting spirit in Riles the first year on the job.

“Being Alaya Riles’ teacher has been rewarding, encouraging and an overall great experience,” Bellard said. “Her tenacity and determination to always do her best and succeed peaked my interest in her as a student. Ms. Riles is a student that is one of a kind. She excels in not only her academic achievement, but also in her extra-curricular activities.”

Bellard said it is the persistence and dedication of Riles that sets an example.

“The excellence she shows in and out of school exemplifies her leadership, school spirit and hard work,” Bellard said. “ As a health care student in the clinical setting, the compassion she exudes and her willingness to learn will make her an excellent health care worker.”

Riles’ journey to becoming a successful healthcare worker starts the day she graduates high school. She will graduate already certified as a nurse’s assistant.

Memorial High School senior Alaya Riles will attend Prairie View A&M in the fall to study nursing. (Courtesy photo)

In the fall, she will move to Prairie View A&M University to major in nursing with dreams of becoming an obstetrician gynecologist.

“I want to be the advocate for the child and the mother,” Riles said. “I am all for women’s health and infant health, as well. It interests me to know that I will be a helping hand in the process of a new life entering the world.”

Outside of nursing, Riles’ passions include a long list of extracurricular activities and leadership roles.

The oldest sibling of three is captain of the Memorial volleyball team, 2020 class president and vice president of the Principal’s Student Advisory Committee and a volunteer dance instructor for Doll Girls Dance.

She is also in the National Technical Honor Society, in the top 11 percent of her class and a 4.0 GPA recipient.

Memorial High School senior Alaya Riles poses for a senior portrait. (Courtesy photo)

Riles also competed in the annual CavOILcade beauty pageant last year, placing as second runner-up.

“Education is very important to me,” Riles said. “Education is something that will never be unfastened from myself and something that will take me far in life, but it’s also important for me to be a part of different groups outside of school because along the way I have met so many great people and created so many friendships.”

Being a leader is also one of Riles’ favorite parts of school.

“I love being a leader and someone that people can look up to, because I feel as if that’s why I was put on this Earth,” she said. “I have mentored and helped so many and it makes me feel good inside to know that I am able to do so.

“I want everyone to know that I’m ready to explore my future and the career path that I’ve chosen. I am excited to endure this new chapter in my life.”