alexis-85I’m just a poor boy. I come from dirt roads and flea markets. I used to eat ramen noodles for lunch. My most expensive toy set was a box of Legos. How did I do it? I came from nothing. There was no house, no perfect family; no inheritance to be drawn from. I wasn’t going to be left behind, not when I had a choice. Even when they say there isn’t a choice, there always is. There’s always a choice.

I looked at a map of North America today. I looked at the map and looked for my birthplace: Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. Then I looked for my hometown where I grew up: San Diego, California, USA. Then I looked at where I am now: Rochester, New York, USA. I’ve traveled ~2,500 miles away from my place of birth. I’m studying Public Health/Psychology in a top-tier university. Who would’ve ever thought? Who would’ve known? Me? Why? How?!

The road leading here was rocky to say the least. It wasn’t fun. There were many moments in which the fight didn’t seem worth it. But now looking back, it was. The pain, the tears, the disappointments, all worth the prize; I’m here now as a first-generation college student. But it’s much more than that. It’s so much more; it’s more than just getting a college degree…it’s about the dream.

It’s about the dream that came true for a little boy who never in his wildest thoughts imagined he would be here right now. Now, that same little boy is sitting here telling you your dream can come true too. I don’t care if they say you can’t do this or can’t do that because you’re X,Y, and Z or because you suffer from 1, 2, 3, IT DOESN’T MATTER. Sometimes it seems like the whole world is collapsing around you; wars raging on across the world, economies bouncing up and down and diseases striking unexpectedly, but give yourself one sweet second everyday to focus on yourself…to focus on your dream. With hard work, a little faith and lots of determination you really can do anything.

I am SO thankful for those who believed in me when I didn’t. Thanks to CSO for believing that I could make a difference. Thanks to the University of Rochester for putting me here, for having faith in me. Thanks to my Mom, although we don’t see eye to eye on MANY issues she still served as great inspiration to me.

There’s a young man that I met in September of last year who always said he admired me. I never believed him, all I could say was: “Why?” I didn’t see then what he saw in me. He saw strength, strength even in the bleakest of circumstances. He believed in me, and thanks to him, I believe in myself too. Thank you, thank you, thank you. =]


With hopes & dreams intact,