UC Santa Barbara or UC Irvine? That was the decision Santa Maria High School senior Doris Nogales felt she had to make as far as where to continue her education.

"I was a bit indecisive but after weighing my options, I wound up choosing UC Santa Barbara," said Nogales.

"I feel like the atmosphere there will fit my personality more. And it's closer to home." Nogales said she will live on campus at UC Santa Barbara.

Nogales was the senior Santa Maria Female Scholar Athlete of the Year. The four-year cross country runner was that school's nominee for the 2020 Northern Santa Barbara County Female Scholar Athlete award.

The NSBCART customarily awards its scholarships at its annual awards dinner. The organization cancelled its 2020 dinner because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doris Nogales said her mother, Carolina, was a big inspiration for her.

"I did have a mother who always emphasized the importance of receiving a higher education because for her that was never an option since from an early age she had to begin working to support her family financially," Doris Nogales wrote in her essay.  

She was an integral part of a Santa Maria girls cross country program that has been on the rise in recent years.

She was also busy in other areas, working in the school cafeteria and being active in community organizations such as Santa Maria Open Streets program. She also volunteered at the Santa Maria Public Library and the Santa Maria Humane Society.

Nogales also volunteered during the local annual Toys for Tots toy drive and at the annual Santa Maria Christmas Parade. 

At school, besides working in the cafeteria, Nogales was also part of the Link Crew, a school organization designed to help students transitioning from middle school to high school.

When she gets to college, "For right now, I'm planning to just stick to academics," she said.

"It will be a bit of an adjustment, going without competitive running," said Nogales.

"For me, it was an adjustment, getting used to not running every day. But I know it will help me focus more on my academics."

Though without the regularity she used to do, Nogales said she has been doing some running, on her own. Running is one activity that has been encouraged during California Governor Gavin Newsom's statewide shelter-in-place directive.

"At first I was a bit scared to go out," because of the pandemic, said Nogales.

"I have managed to go on a few runs. Although it was harder without my teammates, I did manage to get a few miles in."

Schools have been closed statewide since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and students have been working on a strictly online curriculum.

"For me, I'd rather be in the classroom, because I feel I'm more of a visual learner," said Nogales.

Online learning "has been a hard adjustment, but I think I'm getting used to it," she said.

Nogales will study communications at UC Santa Barbara. She said she hopes to become a counselor at the high school level. 

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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