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Getting to Know … Nicolas Zevallos

A conversation with one of the Virginia College Savings Plan's Poster Contest winners.

The brochure stayed on his fridge for at least a month as Nicolas Zevallos considered entering the Virginia College Savings Plan's annual poster contest. For the 10th year the "Drawing Your Dreams" contest would give 13 Virginia students a tax-free, four-year university contract for any Virginia institution.

Now a ninth-grade student at Washington-Lee High School, Nicolas was finally eligible to enter his artwork. His parents, Samantha Roberts and José Zevallos, knew their son could win, but Nicolas remained skeptical. "I'm a drawer — a sketcher," Nicolas said, "I wasn't used to working with paints and I just thought I'd never win."

It took just five magic words from his parents to convince him to try, "I told him, 'If you win this, we'll buy you a car' that might have been an error in judgment!" Roberts joked.

With only three weeks to complete his submission, Nicolas set to work. "I wanted to do something in color," he said, "I usually work with pens or pencils so I'm used to black and white."

It took three days to complete his winning entry, which was his third draft of the painting. While Nicolas remained unconvinced he could win, his parents never doubted him. "We just think he's so talented," Roberts said. José Zevallos echoed, "What makes us proudest is that he did this all by himself, this was all him."

Arlington Connection: What brought you to Arlington and how long have you lived in the community?

Nicolas Zevallos: I've lived here for four and a half years with my parents, my sister, and my cat. My parents moved here from McLean so my sister and I could be in the Arlington Spanish Immersion Program. I chose to go to Washington-Lee for the IB program.

AC: What are some of your personal goals?

NZ: Right now, just finishing high school. I think with my scholarship I'd like to go to an art school, maybe VCU.

AC: What are some of your other interests?

NZ: Drawing, of course, and I also like to mess around with my artwork on the computer. I like playing video games, building miniatures and playing soccer. Now that I've tried it I'd like to get more into painting.

AC: What are some of your favorite local restaurants?

NZ: I love Cassat's Basement and Guajillo Restaurant.

AC: What community 'hidden treasure' do you think more people should know about?

NZ: Café Tirolo on Fairfax Drive.

AC: What was the last book you've read and movie you watched?

NZ: I just read "Confederacy of Dunces" and I saw "A Scanner Darkly." I loved them both.

AC: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you 'grew up?'

NZ: When I was a little kid I wanted to be one of those people that extracted venom from snakes.

AC: If you were to take a road trip right now, and money were no object, where would you go?

NZ: I'd go to Thailand.

AC: What is one issue that concerns teens that you feel the community/government is ignoring?

NZ: School lunches! I don't care how healthy they are supposed to be, just make them taste better!