This Riverside senior learned how to be a leader from example, then experience

Nathan Berg - Gainesville Times
"Riverside has played so many big roles in my life,” said Cadet Pablo Yesaki Serrato.
Pablo Yesaki Serrato never saw himself as a leader before enrolling at Riverside Military Academy.

Yesaki Serrato grew up in Monterrey, Mexico — where he still lives with his parents when not attending the Gainesville boarding school — but he wanted to attend military school to follow in the steps of his grandfather and improve himself. When he first arrived at the school in eighth grade, Yesaki Serrato dedicated himself to being as loyal a follower as he could be, constantly obedient and responsive to orders. But the commanding officer of his company of seventh and eighth graders, known as Alpha company, made an impression on Yesaki Serrato and inspired him to strive for leadership.

“He was kind,” Yesaki Serrato said. “He was direct. He knew when to give instructions. He knew when to be scary. I just saw him as a big brother figure, and I wanted to be that. I wanted to become that big brother figure that would care for others and that others would look up to as well.”

Class of 2020

The Times puts together this special senior recognition each year, highlighting a few standout stories from our local seniors, but this year we’ve added graduation lists from our local schools in an effort to honor as many graduates as we can. We hope you’re inspired by these stories and join us in celebrating the class of 2020. You can view these stories online as well as upcoming photo coverage of this year's graduation ceremonies.
Five years later, Yesaki Serrato has achieved that goal. 

He was commanding officer for Alpha company in his senior year and also will graduate as class valedictorian with a 4.21 GPA. 

Along the way, Yesaki Serrato has learned a thing or two about leadership. 

As he rose through the ranks in the school, Yesaki Serrato figured out that being a good leader is all about striking the right balance between friend and mentor. Through trial and error, he learned that younger kids respect an officer who is kind but not overly lenient, friendly but also serious when he needs to be.

Making personal connections with every member of his company was the best way Yesaki Serrato found to learn and grow.

“I learned that leadership isn’t just about sitting down and giving orders,” he said.
Yesaki Serrato’s time in command of Alpha company has even had a major impact on his career goals. 

He will be attending the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education this fall, with plans to one day become a teacher. Yesaki Serrato said he now has a passion for being a role model for younger kids. 
He also has a commitment to learning that led him to his valedictorian status at the school.

Yesaki Serrato said he plans on studying everything from math and science to music and philosophy at university. 
“I never want to stop learning,” he said.

After graduating from college, Yesaki Serrato said he may move back to the United States, but nothing is set in stone yet. 

He’s not sure exactly where his studies will take him, but Yesaki Serrato is certain the mark left on him by Riverside will be permanent.

“Before I went to Riverside, I wasn’t too sure about what I did, why I did it,” he said. “I never really saw myself as someone people would follow. But now I have more self-respect. I’m way more organized, both in my daily life and in my room physically. Riverside has played so many big roles in my life.” 

Riverside Military Academy graduating seniors

Steven Abraham III
Areeb Ahmad
Abubakar Alasa
Marco Rafael Aleman Mendoza
Adamu Aliyu
Scott Anderson Jr.
Chad Andrews
Jacob Baker
Jack Bartlett
Hudson Baxley
Abrahim Ben-Khalid
Austin Berry
Robert Binder
Joseph Brockwell
Christopher Brown
David Burton
Adrian Cabildo
Jesse Crandall
Austin Ericson
Blake Espinall
Michael Faber
Jaysen Fernandez
Rodricus Forrest
Lamar Gordon
Coby Grayeski
William Greer
Nicholas Haley
Jermaine Harris
Alexander Hasselbrack
Chaoliang Hsu
Jamaal Inu-Umoru
Kayman Jeffley
Jonathan Jeter
Zhikang Jin
Zion Johnson
William Joiner
Cade King
Bryce Klacynski
Steve Kloor
Alan Larrondo
William Lee V
Brian Lewis
Yaoxian Liang
Robert Lindsey Jr.
James Little
Xiaozhan Liu
Jaya Mallampati
Eduardo Alexander Matos Santos
Antonio Mccrary II
Aveni Miguel
Juan Pablo Nava
Nicholas Newman
Clay Newsom
Philemon Nwosu
Brendan Okeson
Andrew Okingo
Emmil Ortega
Benjamin Petrella
Mason Pond
Nicolas Prutu
Adam Ratcliff
Stone Reilly
Derek Roach
McLin Sanders
Corey Scheib
Eduardo Scully
Matthew Sherbondy
Charles Shropshire Jr.
Samuel Siethoff
Kendall Sims
Jonah Skipper
Broadus Stooksbury
James Coston Thigpen
Ethan Trigg
John Vannice
Sean Whitley
Pablo Yesaki Serrato