Opportunity of a lifetime

By Carlos Gómez

When I stand before my peers, few know about the journey of obstacles I have endured in my life: poverty, lack of work, alcoholism, domestic violence, and the need to migrate to the United States as there was no hope for a decent life in Tequila, the small town in Mexico where I come from.

   I arrived in the United States full of dreams and aspirations of going to college. I set my problems aside and used them as motivation to never go back to living in poverty. I began thinking positively on how I wanted to lead my life. I viewed the United States as a new beginning and I focused all my energy in school.

   I never lost faith. I quickly acculturated to a new lifestyle and fully developed a new language within months. It was my determination and passion for success that enabled me to overcome the challenges that so many immigrant youth face, like giving up because they see no hope and dropping out of school. I began to challenge myself with as many honors and advanced courses as I could, and I physically challenged myself in competitive sports such as football, wrestling, and track, all while graduation at the top of my class.

As the student body president and founder of two clubs, I serve as mentor to students at my school. I share my experiences and emphasize the importance of a college education through our rallies and club activities. I reiterate the importance of education by serving as a peer minister at my Catholic church, where I help prepare lesson plans to teach confirmation candidates about their religion. Being involved in my church also enables me to be part of an archdiocesan committee that produced a skit for an annual youth conference that hosted nearly 15,000 youth.

   I take advantage of the many opportunities that my community offers, including community college courses and being an active member of the educational enrichment program, GEAR UP. As I become more involved, I develop more dreams and aspirations. Initially, I wanted to attend a four-year university, but I now aspire to double major in international business and obtain a Ph.D. in psychology. I plan to come back and serve the youth in my community and someday work for the U.S. Embassy in France.

After a number of disappointments in my search for scholarships, I was offered the Hurtado Scholarship at Santa Clara University. My gate to the American Dream had finally been opened, my prayers were answered, my hard work had paid off, and my gratitude had grown larger than ever. I believe in miracles, and to me, this was a miracle. At the same time I am saddened to know how many good kids, who have college potential, will not be attending because this country requires a number to qualify for financial aid. It was not our decision to come here, and I find this an injustice of our society, and for that I will never forget where I come from and I will dedicate myself to those in need.

Reprinted with permission From NACAC. “Opportunity of a Lifetime—a Student’s Perspective” originally appeared in the Journal of College Admission, Winter 2012 Number 206 Copyright © 2010 National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).  All right reserved by NACAC.

Your Turn
What difficulties do you have to overcome in order to fulfill your education dreams? Do you give up easily?


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