Pioneer Valley High School senior Lauren Carandang had known for awhile that she would continue her education at either UC Berkeley or UC San Diego.

She decided on UC San Diego.

“I felt UC San Diego was a more positive environment that I could learn in,” she said.

“Besides, financially, in the long run, it is better for me to go there.”

Carandang will study general biology at UC San Diego and hopes to go to medical school.

Carandang was named the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table Female Athlete of the Year last week.

Besides holding the school girls triple jump record at 36 feet, 2 inches she carries a 4.18 grade point average at Pioneer Valley.

The NSBCART typically awards its scholarships at its annual awards dinner. The organization cancelled its 2020 dinner because of the COVID-19 pandemic and awarded the winners their plaques and scholarships at a ceremony last week in Santa Maria.

Carandang was on the Pioneer Valley track varsity team for four years, the only freshman to earn a permanent varsity spot.

She qualified for the post-season in the triple jump three times and had already met the CIF Central Section qualifying mark her senior year when sports statewide ended in March because of the pandemic.

Carandang also qualified in the pole vault and long jump last year and ran for the second-fastest girls relay team in school history.

Still, “I’ve already gotten used to going without competitive sports during the quarantine,” she said.

“I’m just going to concentrate on academics at UC San Diego, but I will always miss my teammates and coaches at Pioneer Valley and the sport. I’ll always try to stay in shape.”

Carandang said she is leaning toward pursuing a career as an OB/GYN.

She said she has long been interested in the medical field, and the interest stems from her mother. Arsenia Carandang works as a nurse at the Veterans Administration Clinic in Santa Maria and at Santa Ynez Cottage Hospital.

Lauren Carandang was a volunteer at Marian Hospital for two years. She wrote in her scholarship application that she was the youngest mentee chosen to participate in the Dignity Health Physician Mentoring Program.

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“I actually got to shadow an OB/GYN and that really got me interested in that specialty,” she said.

Like many, Carandang said she has adjusted to online learning but would rather be in the classroom “I’m a hands on learner,” she said.

Senior Spotlight Series: Celebrating the area's top senior student-athletes

Our 'Senior Spotlight' series is aimed at highlighting senior student-athletes who have had their final year of high school disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The athletes featured here were their school's nominee for Athlete of the Year or Student Athlete of the Year for the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table's end-of-year banquet that has been canceled due to the outbreak.

Player of the Decade: We're looking for the top player of the last 10 seasons

The sports staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News is looking for the top football player from Northern Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County over the last 10 seasons of high school ball.

See who our nominees are thus far.


Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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