Antonio Morales Leyva: a fruit loop in a world of cheerios


Photo by Joseph Kamandy

Antonio Morales Leyva has learned to appreciate his individuality instead of trying to “fit the mold.”

Story by Marlene Calderon, Co-Editor in Chief

Cuffed jeans, an endless selection of solid-colored crewnecks, a Fjällräven Kånken, and an endearingly boyish bowl cut all embody an individual with an eye for aesthetics. But as the four years of high school come to an end, Antonio Morales Leyva proves that he isn’t fixed on trying to portray a certain image. He’s simply himself. He’s an icon in a bright red “Cheez-It” crewneck who is smart, entertaining, and 100 percent worthwhile.

    “Antonio is such an open person and so easy to talk to. Knowing him has taught me how important it is to live honestly and find pride in that truth; I’ve always admired how he doesn’t compromise who he is to assimilate to other people’s expectations,” Clarissa Le (12) said. 

   Although Morales Leyva found a friend group in high school, he also found that he drastically differed from them. Competition and comparison among friends can be detrimental to self-esteem, but he learned to separate himself from situations that he didn’t feel comfortable in. From freshman year, Morales Leyva has grown immensely into a self-proclaimed “sexy beast” with the most enviable penmanship you could possibly imagine. It wasn’t easy but he has learned to embrace flaws and a newfound confidence.

   “A lot of my friends held me to the same standards they held themselves to. They would tell me that if I tried harder I would have gotten an A, and it wasn’t necessarily bullying but it really ruined my self esteem for a while and made me feel stupid. Now I don’t care. I am ugly but I am also hot so who cares. As a senior, I realize I should only care about what I think of myself,” Morales Leyva said.

   As he separated himself from a competitive environment, Morales Leyva also came to terms with what his future would hold. He plans on staying local and attending Cal State San Marcos to pursue a degree in psychology and earn a teaching credential to become a teacher one day.  

   “There’s two things I want to do. I want to get a psychology degree and become a psychology teacher like Ms. Presley, and I want to also be a teacher for students with special needs at some point. My niece is deaf and going to her school and seeing kids run around with cochlear implants or using sign language is inspiring. Their teachers are so radiant and it makes me want to be like them,” Morales Leyva said. 

   Before he becomes a teacher, Morales Leyva hopes to abandon any perceptions people may have of him and continue to flourish while opening his third eye. In the meantime, you can catch him strengthening his ASL skills and trying to sign “that’s what she said.”