Before his high school career at Santa Maria High School started, current SMHS senior Gilberto Mora set three goals for himself.

He wanted to maintain straight A's throughout his four years there.

He wanted to earn a spot on the school's varsity soccer team.

He wanted to ease the college tuition burden on his parents by earning scholarship money.

Check, check and check.

The former Cabrillo basketball standout will major in kinesiology and, “Azusa Pacific got a new kinesiology lab there, and I was really impressed with it.” Hicks hopes to become a physical therapist. “I was able to shadow a physical therapist in Lompoc, and that really got me interested in that as a career,” he said.

Besides, at Azusa Pacific, there may be a chance Hicks can continue with his basketball career.

Mora has indeed earned straight A's during his time at Santa Maria. He carries a 4.38 GPA. Mora was the SMHS nominee for the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table Male Scholar Athlete scholarship honor.

The Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table organization typically awards its scholarships during its annual awards dinner. The NSBCART cancelled its 2020 dinner because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only did he earn a spot on the varsity soccer team, Mora has been an integral part of the program. Mora was an All-Mountain League selection, and the Saints made it to the 2020 CIF Central Section Division 1 championship game, losing 1-0 to Fresno Central.

The Saints won in the first round of the Southern Cal regional in the state playoffs, then lost in the semifinals.

Soon after, spring sports statewide were put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the spring sports season was cancelled soon afterward.      

Mora has earned some scholarship money, enough to help with his tuition costs at Cal Poly.

Mora said he debated between Cal Poly and UC San Diego, but ultimately decided Cal Poly was the school for him.

"They're closer to home, and they helped with my tuition," said Mora. He said he will likely commute to Cal Poly for classes.

Mora has played competitive soccer since he was a child. Though that part of his life is done, Mora said he would like to stay in touch with the sport in some capacity.

"Academics always comes first for me, but if I can I will try to play soccer still," Mora said.

"Soccer was always a year-round sport for me. It was a big part of my life, and I made a lot of friends in the sport. Going without competitive soccer will be a challenge, but I'm willing to face it."

He will major in business administration at Cal Poly. His career goal is a job in financial management.

"Math courses have been my favorite classes at Santa Maria," said Mora. "They're challenging, but I learned a lot from them. I made a lot of friends in those classes as well."

Mora saw long hours dedicated to his schoolwork pay off when he was accepted into Cal Poly.

He has been a strictly online learner since March. California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide shelter-in-place directive in March, and schools across the state have been closed since.

"I always prefer to be in the classroom, but online courses are not that bad," Mora said.