Champions of Change
I am from San Francisco’s Latino neighborhood, the Mission, and I grew up attending the local public schools. During middle school, I joined a program called First Graduate (FG) that helps students become the first in their families to graduate from college. The FG staff encouraged me to apply to Lick-Wilmerding, a prestigious private high school in the city. I was admitted, and during my freshman year, I was stunned by the tremendous disparity between the education I received there, and the education my low-income peers and I had received in the Mission. I arrived being academically far behind my classmates, so my eventual admission to Harvard represented a very meaningful accomplishment. They day I received a letter that I had also won the Gates Millennium Scholarship was the day I decided that my hard-won accomplishments would not only benefit me, but rather I would devote my career to helping other low-income students obtain the quality education they deserve. I have since served as a summer school teacher for low-income students in San Francisco, a mentor for a Native American youth program, a literacy and career coach in South Africa, an English language teacher in a Namibian school for orphans, and I have given informational talks to public school students around San Francisco on the benefits of college and the application process. Currently, I am an intern at the U.S. Department of Education’s International Affairs Office. During my upcoming senior year at Harvard, I will be writing my thesis on Namibian and South African education and completing my coursework and practicum for the Undergraduate Teaching Education Program. When I graduate, I plan on becoming both a middle school English teacher and a community organizer in my neighborhood, the Mission District. Thanks to my Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship, I will one day earn my PhD, and be an even more informed Latino leader for my community.