“Ese niño nunca va a aprender a hablar Ingles.” That boy will never learn to speak English. Those words, spoken to me by my sixth grade teacher, left me feeling incapable, isolated, and unworthy of a decent education. At that time, I was a young boy living with my grandmother in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. After being forced out of my private school for socio-economic reasons, I held onto the belief that there had to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Years later, I ended up at Norco Senior High School where a counselor placed me on a non-academic, workforce graduation track since, as she put it, “I would not be going to college anyway.” In spite of all of this, I knew someday I would. However, I didn’t know that life would take me on such an interesting journey while getting there.
Much time elapsed between those days and today. I am now a proud parent of two amazing children: a daughter who is an honor’s graduate from Redlands University and son who is a future Norco College graduate. Last year my son graduated high school. I was so happy for him, and I will never forget the day of his graduation ceremony. I dropped him off at his practice walk, and after exchanging goodbyes, he turned around and put his hand on my car door. I rolled the window down, he leaned in and said “Dad, I couldn’t have done it without you, thank you!” That day, my dream to attend college returned to me. Now that my son had completed high school, I thought about going back to school – maybe he and I could take some classes together, share the books, and study together. And so it happened. In fall 2012 both my son and I started attending classes at Norco College.
After finishing my first semester, I realized that I needed help in order to stay in school. That’s when I discovered EOPS; it was a God-send. Working three part time jobs can be so overwhelming with full-time school. EOPS placed their trust in me and took me in. They inspired me to get the help that I so desperately need – important help including counseling, workshops, books, materials, peers, support, and encouragement – the works! I so profoundly enjoy EOPS that when I was asked to represent the program’s student body as an EOPS advisory committee member, I was elated. The help that I have received from EOPS so far and the relationships that I have formed by being part of the program have been pivotal to my success at Norco College. Today, I am proud to say that I have been on the Dean’s List twice this past year, and I will continue to do my best at every turn of this long, winding road. I am extremely blessed to be the man who has not only learned English, but who will also, with the help of support programs like EOPS, graduate, in spite of my naysayers words, from college with honors.