Joshua Rodriguez’s days as a Weslaco High student-athlete are over, but he’s still receiving recognition for those accomplishments.

As the valedictorian of his 2020 graduating class and key member of the Panthers boys basketball team, the soon-to-be University of Texas at Austin student was named a National AP Scholar this week for his performance on AP exams. The award made Rodriguez the first National AP Scholar from Weslaco since 2016.

The AP program recognizes high school students who have demonstrated outstanding college-level achievement through their performance on multiple AP exams. A National AP Scholar is among the most prestigious distinctions for a high school student and is only granted to students who receive an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and score 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams.

Rodriguez credits his competitiveness for the reason he was able to excel academically and as a three-year letterman for the Panthers basketball team, which made multiple playoff runs during his time at Weslaco.

“I’m a very competitive person, and I’ve learned that as I’ve matured throughout middle school and high school as you start to find yourself a bit. As I started playing sports, and when someone from another city challenges you, you get the feeling inside you, ‘This guy can’t show me up. I have to be the best,’” Rodriguez said. “The same thing would happen with school. I just wanted to show that I was the best, no matter what, in all facets, in academics and athletics.”

Rodriguez’s determination resulted in him working his way up from the No. 2-ranked student in his graduating class for part of his sophomore and junior years, to finish on top by the end of his senior year at Weslaco High.

Rodriguez is set to begin his first year at the University of Texas at Austin this fall, when he’ll major in a Plan II Honors Program with hopes of eventually attending medical school.

“Looking forward to the future, I’m excited; it’s a whole new chapter. It’s a little scary and a little exciting at the same time,” Rodriguez said. “I’m excited for all the hard work I’m going to do in college, as well. I know that being valedictorian is just a stepping stone, so I know that whatever I did in high school doesn’t mean anything unless I build on it. So I’m excited to build on that success in college and see how much I can impact the world.”

bramos@themonitor.com