When Zeke Solano starts classes at IUPUI in the fall, he’ll be reaching a new level of education his parents never experienced.
His father, Sergio, attended school only to the sixth grade. Alana Solano, his mother, graduated high school but did not continue her education.
Their hard work and perseverance through life have given him the chance to pursue college, Solano said. He has taken that goal seriously.
Solano is one of three valedictorians in the graduating class at Greenwood Christian Academy. His perfect 4.0 grade-point average is a tribute to his parents.
“It’s been a real blessing to see the end result. To step up and carry on from what my parents did has been special,” he said. “They didn’t necessarily push my grades and keep on me about it. But they were always there to help me when I needed it.”
In the classroom, Solano has excelled in everything from civics to chemistry to English. But his passion has been in mathematics. Every problem can be unraveled and the correct answer reached.
The key is finding the right way to get to it.
That mindset is ideal for what Solano envisions as his career. He plans to study actuarial science when he enters IUPUI in the fall. Using math and statistical analysis, he will help assess risk in insurance, finance and other fields.
“It’s like solving a puzzle, and it’s in black and white. There’s a clear solution,” he said. “That suits the way I think.”
Solano has attended Greenwood Christian Academy since seventh grade. He was a goalkeeper for the Cougar soccer team, where he learned the value of teamwork.
But a standout moment came during eighth grade. During a school-wide geography competition, he found himself tied with two other students. To break the tie, all three were given a world map, and asked to fill in as many countries as they could.
Solano went to work, starting with major countries that everyone knew, such as Canada, China and India, then working down to the more obscure nations.
His efforts earned him the title.
“That was a complete surprise. Winning that is neat to think about,” he said.
Up until his junior year, Solano didn’t even realize he was in contention to be valedictorian.
“It wasn’t a goal that I had all my life, but it’s turned into a blessing that I was able to have,” he said.