Since he was nine years old, he's been telling me all of the reasons that he wouldn't make it. There was the fact that he was already nine and had never been to school. He had been working for quite a few years by that point and assured me he needed to return to work. Eventually, he was able to be persuaded that for now, his "work" would be at a small school in Lindsay, California from eight to five every day.
He was one of the most driven children I'd ever met. Driven to work hard, driven to protect, driven to survive. Once he was convinced to stay in school for at least the year(that was our deal, one year at a time with no further commitment), he knew that he had time to make up. I told him he would need a session before school began, one during school, and one after school each day if we were going to catch up. He chuckled at the impossibility of catching up but humored me out of respect. I assured him that he need not be sure he could do it just yet. For now, I could believe enough for the two of us. His tireless teaching staff, obvious maturity and strong work ethic saw him through the next few years and he began to make gains.
After eighth grade, we had another agreement for just "one more year". He began high school and another set of amazing learning facilitators took the torch as it was passed with detailed instruction. By year two of high school, he met a magician I like to call Amalia. It was with Mrs. Lopez that he became a published author for the first time. His stories were filled with raw truth about sacrifice, hard work, love, God, and family. It was through one of those stories that I saw through his eyes with perfect detail of his life in Lindsay and summers in Oregon picking cherries. He surpassed driven and became relentless in his pursuit of success. The shift had happened, and he was no longer promising me one year at a time. He was promising himself that he would continue at the University level.
High School graduation came and he held the title of first high school graduate in his family. Although his parents didn't always understand the point of paying for education, they prayed for him as he entered COS Junior College. Holding at least two jobs and a full time schedule, he pushed through the uncertainty and continued to thrive. No time for extracurricular activities, he was driven to work, pay his own bills, and pass his classes. After a time at COS, he transferred to CSU Fresno to begin the next chapter.
Finally, he was beginning to believe it was possible to graduate. His work ethic remained unbreakable, and he not only passed his classes, but has been on the Dean's list every semester while in a science-based major. He is set to begin his senior year with outstanding achievements along the way including many awards and accolades.
This July, while picking cherries in Oregon, he got an email letting him know that all of his financial aid was gone, and he would have a few weeks to pay his tuition in full. He was unable to furnish the more than six thousand dollar semester tuition bill, and was dropped from all of his classes. He returned from Oregon immediately, and has been reinstated in most of his classes for now. The University has given him until the 18th of August to pay in full.
I've never started a "go fund me" account before, but I know that this dream must become a reality. There has been so much sacrifice in his life, but he does not complain. There has been pain, but he does not fail. There has been much disappointment, but he does not give up. There has been heartbreak, but he continues to move forward.
Join me in proving that nine-year-old wrong in thinking that he won't "make it". Join me in cheering him across one of the most important finish lines he will ever cross. Join me in showing that small communities can come together in a big way.
We have "one more year" to get through, and this time, I mean it! Just one more year to finish what he started, to a completely different life, to his future. Let's give him our support for just "one more year".
- Sara Arellano
- Carlos Soleno
- Corrine Ornelas
- Olivia Calvillo
- Amy Bishop
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