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Get to know the newest Peoria Hometown Hero

Reyes honored in Leader of Tomorrow category


For his work in the field of cyber security, Peoria Unified student Cougarjade Reyes has been named a Peoria Independent Hometown Hero in the Leader of Tomorrow category.

The Hometown Heroes Awards are a celebration of individuals who live, work or teach in the city, and Peoria businesses for their achievements and distinguished contributions to the community and beyond.

Reyes will be honored at an awards luncheon later month. The third annual Hometown Heroes luncheon will honor those nominated in 2023.

Get to know Reyes more here.

What I like most about going to school in Peoria Unified: My instructors are very passionate and even selfless. Meaning that when students have the motivation and opportunity the teachers and staff go above and beyond to match their students.

What does it mean to be a student at Peoria Unified?: In my time as a student many programs along with my school have supported me out of the Peoria Unified School District. So now as I have my last year in Peoria Unified it serves as a marker of the beginning of my own journey.

Name one or two challenges you have overcome: I have been a part of a low-income family all my life, and raised by a single father with the support of my family, friends and school. Upon learning how the financial aid that my household relied on worked, I researched more about what my family was eligible for, and reached out to educators in my district for help getting connected with these programs.

What do you think you bring to the local community that makes it better?: Throughout all four years I’ve been in Air Force JROTC I’ve participated in community service, but my most personal investments I’ve made would be accepting requests to speak before organizations, clubs and classes in the community.

What would you tell people about why it’s important to make a difference?: Our community and state are reflections of who we are and the choices we make. If you treat your community half as well as you treat yourself, it will be there for you and your family when you need it.

Changes I’d like to see in this area: Extended outreach for misguided youth facing mental issues, drug abuse and homelessness, especially in a way that allows and embraces the community to donate or volunteer.

My family (what have they taught you): My father always taught me to carry myself proudly with a strong ambition. My father would show me by example that regardless of any disadvantages you have, nobody can take away your ability to persevere.

My interests and hobbies: Martial arts, wrestling, computer building, photography/modeling, street performance.

The trait(s) I admire in others: The ability to consistently challenge yourself, embracing discomfort, ambition.

People who inspired me (and how): Nathan Kajornkittipoom was one of my classmates who overcame a background very similar to my own and is succeeding in every aspect of the word. He won multiple scholarships, one of which priced at $150,000 and is now studying at ASU.

My father worked strenuous manual labor to keep our household afloat while also being a single father. Throughout each and every day he kept high spirits, a good sense of humor, and would testify that it was all possible due to the blessings and teaching of God.

My guiding philosophy: We are called to act with our best judgment and realize who you are. But our journey isn’t ours alone, so help one another along the way.

My advice to today’s youth: Invest in yourself so that you can be capable of taking care of yourself and help take care of those who can’t.

Name a couple future goals: Become an officer in the Air Force; become a respected and recognized member of the martial arts community; establish a family company in signs and advertisement name “Cougarjade Productions.”