As an immigrant from Mexico my obstacles are numerous. My mother, a single parent, knew that America had better opportunities for us than our homeland. Opportunities were very limited for her because of the language barrier. Because of this, she instilled in me the importance of education. My K-12 years back in the day were a sink or swim experience. Limited resources were offered to me as a student. In 2013, my company outsourced my job, and I was faced with financial hardship. By 2015 I finished my A.A. and transferred to Cal State University- Dominguez Hills with a major in Political Science.
During my first semester of college, I realized that high school had cheated me out of my education and had left me falling behind in comparison to my classmates. They all had intellectual discussions about social justice issues that I struggled to keep up with. They all bragged about how many AP classes they took while I recalled that AP was taken away at my high school because “it did not fit in with the curriculum.” They were able to actively participate in group discussions based on our readings while I was still struggling to catch up on the assignment. They wrote beautiful and organized essays while mine were jumbled up ideas I came up with the morning that the papers were due. They were ahead while I was behind, and now it is my burden to either catch up or give up.
When I first went to a high school with high expectations, I realized that I was completely unprepared for the work. I was unprepared not because I didn’t study, but rather because the knowledge was never taught to me in middle school. I was able to apply for special services that my parents found out about. Through the constant support of my parents and mentor, I closed the gap in my education and graduated from high school to pursue a degree in college. When I look back, I realize that not all kids received the same resources. They didn’t have access to the support system I had. I was one of the lucky ones, and to me that is unacceptable. Proper support for a student to succeed shouldn’t be a matter of luck. It should be a guaranteed right. That is why I’m a part of Students for Education Reform.
Although my high school was not as resourceful, safe, nor caring as other high-performing schools, the classes I took and the help I received from teachers prepared me for college. When I think about students who did not receive the same support as I did, I am filled with anger and dolefulness. I hope that one day, all students are treated, assisted, and listened to equally - regardless of their political, social, or economic background.
Education is important to my family, which has been my constant support system. I was on the pathway of becoming another statistic. The stress level I endured from a young age could have broken me but instead it built me and made me stronger. I am grateful my family and I no longer struggle as we did before. I am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to be at UCLA and pursue law as my professional career. I want other children and young adults to have this same feeling of loving education and to have the opportunity to pursue a career of their own. In order for this to happen children need to be served by excellent teachers. This is why I fight for education reform! I believe every child can succeed!
In high school, I was a part of a TRIO program at my high school, called Education Talent Search. The program was designed to target low-income and first-generation students like myself who did not have the slightest clue about college. I was given access to workshops, fee waivers, tutoring, and extra support from my academic advisers who set expectations higher than those I had for myself. The extra support I received from my Education Talent Search family made all the difference for me.
I hurriedly loaded my bag into my father’s truck as he picked me up from play rehearsal. I was ecstatic to announce that I was in process of completing my University of California applications. His response was anything but what I expected. It was as if I had just committed a crime; instead of congratulating me, he hollered and screeched, insisting it was a waste of money. Although I was academically prepared for a four-year university, I complied with my father’s wishes to attend a community college. These beliefs, which were instilled in me, meant that education was not valued in my family, but merely seen as a cost burden. The lack of educational empowerment resonated through my family. Despite these challenges, today I am on the pathway to graduating from one of the most prestigious universities in California and I am proud to say my family's perception of the importance of education has significantly changed.
I am aware that I am only attending college because I was tracked as a “gifted” student in my years of elementary school. Those teachers allowed for me to be provided many more opportunities and resources than my peers, including mentorship programs and even more respect from teachers. Many of the peers I had known since elementary school could not graduate from high school, while others in the gifted program were confident they could achieve their goals. I question why it has to be like this and how I can help public school students and their parents feel empowered enough to demand the quality education they deserve.
My hopes and fears are nothing more than simple ideas that can become reality almost overnight. I hope to one day become a teacher at the high school level and a professor at the community college level in order to combat the failing school system that was set in place about 150 years ago. As a student who was failed by my school, I want to go back to my old high school and make a positive impact in my community by empowering the students of Bell High School to excel above their own expectations. My greatest fear is that I may never achieve what I have set my mind to, but perseverance is key to long lasting success. Thus I shall persevere!
As the country plummets deeper into the depths of an ever expanding void of demagoguery and pathological ignorance—it remains painfully evident that the task of restructuring our dysfunctional edifice of education has become nothing short of a moral imperative. Rather than serve as devastating instruments of social stagnation, communities must fight to ensure that academic institutions operate instead as fountainheads of personal growth and development. Rather than continue to foster apathy, conformity, acquiescence and mediocrity—it is incumbent upon us to demand that educators promote creative freedom, maintain high expectations and motivate students to inquire, to create, to pursue the truth and to learn and think for themselves. Truly, there exists no endeavor more fulfilling, no task more arduous nor so worthwhile, than the pursuit of knowledge—not simply as a means to acquire some validating certificate of achievement—but for its own sake.
I left Mexico when I was 14 years old. I live in Los Angeles, CA, and I’m a 4th year student at CSU-Dominguez Hills. My high school experience was partly efficient. I remember struggling to speak English and not getting enough help. Moreover, I was not challenged in most of my classes, which meant easy A’s for me. I felt 100% ready for college. Sadly, I wasn’t. I was very behind in my reading, writing, and speaking skills. Realizing this in college was scary. At that point, I knew I had to start over and do what my K-12 education failed to do--prepare me for success in life. It angers me because there are a lot of children out there struggling and receiving a poor education. WE need to change this problem because every child deserves to be helped, supported, encouraged, challenged, and educated.
I decided to join SFER because I wanted to impact students’ life educationally. I want to become a great fellow and inspire others to expand their horizons when it comes to education, so that they can succeed in the academic world regardless of education inequalities and injustices.
When I think of the educational system in my community, I think of my freshman year in high school when I had a math professor who fell asleep in class. This experience truly shaped me as an advocate of social justice through education reform work. My goal is that none of the members in my community will ever have to face such an injustice in their education.
I was really fortunate and was able to attend magnet schools for most of my K-12 education. My school's magnet program really helped students prepare for college from a young age. College tour, honors/IB classes, and accessible counselors were the norm. Our classes were engaging and really helped prepare me for college. I want all students to be able to have access to such a high quality education that not only allows them to graduate, but also helps them with the next step forward.
Attending four different high schools because of financial reasons made it very difficult to stay focused on my education. Thankfully, I was fortunate to have encountered amazing teachers and counselors throughout my high school years that pushed me and encouraged me to pursue higher education. I joined SFER because of these excellent mentors. I believe that every child deserves to have teachers that set high expectations for them, regardless of race, gender, and socioeconomic status.
I was blessed with an excellent educational experience: teachers who cared, a well-resourced district, and the expectation that I would succeed. I fight for education because this quality shouldn't be a blessing; it should be a right for all students.