PORTERVILLE -- El Diamante High School senior Alejandro Reyes Maldonado Jr. made his debut at the Tulare County Academic Decathlon because he wants to be a role model to his three younger siblings.
Maldonado, 18, has competed in basketball, football, track and tennis for El Diamante.
Now that he's a senior, Maldonado is preparing for college to study business and psychology, while improving on his 3.05 grade point average. The inspiration comes from being a role model to his brothers and sisters.
He competed against the smartest kids in the county last Saturday.
Maldonado and other participants were evaluated in written exams, interviews, speech and a Super Quiz.
Maldonado understands the decathlon results mean little compared to his quest to become the first of his family to achieve a college education.
"It's important that they (siblings) see me go to college because I want them to go to college," he said. "I want them to be inspired by me."
As the president of El Diamante's decathlon team, Maldonado has already inspired a leadership role in the eyes of Anthony, 15, Christian, 2, and Marissa, 8. Neither of his parents -- Alex, a correctional officer, and Ruby, a stay-at-home mom -- attended college.
Alejandro, who is known as A.J., visited several colleges including California State Universities in Fresno and San Diego.
"My brother (Anthony, 15) went with me to Fresno State. Before, he didn't really care for college, but after going with me, he wants to go to Fresno State, so did my sister," said Maldonado.
Maldonado has been accepted to Fresno State, but he hopes San Diego will send him an acceptance letter, which he will take, unless his parents keep him here.
"Since I'll be the first to go to college, my parents don't want me to be so far away," said Maldonado.
Large school division: Granite Hills High School; small school division: Harmony Magnet Academy (Strathmore). Harmony Magnet will represent at the State Championship in Sacramento.
Send e-mail to: