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Where is Ceres? It's everywhere
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I can't even begin to recall the number of times I've been asked, "Ceres? Where on earth is Ceres, California? And over the past 10 years since I left this town I've had a difficult time pointing to it on a map, because frankly, on most maps it's not there.

Since I graduated from Ceres High in 2002, I've lived in and visited countless cities and countries and have only periodically come back and visited the town I called home for 18 years.

I grew up on Central Avenue and am the son of an almond farmer who's called Ceres his home since he immigrated from India in 1972. I spoke my first words in this town, took my first few steps, learned how to count, learned how to spell and learned what two plus two was.

I learned how to finger-paint in Ms. Ricardo's kindergarten class, learned multiplication and division in Ms. White's third-grade class. I learned how to use a computer in Mr. Johnson's fifth-grade class, and learned history from Mr. Kuhl in the sixth grade. Ms. Ackerman taught me algebra, Mr. James taught me about the structure of a cell, as well as how to grow carrots in his agriculture class. I learned art from Mr. Chiesa, and about U.S. presidents from Mr. Leitner. Ms. Mays-Bukko sent me on numerous adventures with the many books we read in her literature class, and Mr. Perry taught me what a guillotine was and how the overthrowing of one country's king changed the world.

Finally, my father taught what it is to be from Ceres -named after the Greek goddess of agriculture - he taught me how to be motivated, ambitious, and what it means to grow and farm something that may be one day eaten by a child in China, India or Europe.

Since I've been home this past year, I've gotten a chance to drive around quite a bit, see the countless almond trees, grape vines, cherry trees, peach trees, and strawberry patches. Just as I've been all over the world and am a product of the efforts of the people who make this town up, so are our fruits, nuts and vegetables. Ceres, California may not be as large as New York City, or Chicago based on its population, but it's just as large in many other ways, which is something to be proud of. And it's a place that I'm looking forward to calling home again soon.

The next time someone gives me a blank look and asks me where on earth Ceres, California is, I'm going to smile and simply reply, look around, it's everywhere.

Pardeep Athwal MD

(Editor's note: Pardeep was born in Modesto, raised in Ceres, graduated Ceres High in 2002 and completed his undergrad in 2006 and medical school in 2010. He's currently working on a part time MBA degree and will be beginning his residency in Radiology at University of Connecticut, in July.)