Giovanni in Los Angeles, CA

Giovanni in Los Angeles, CA

Through the closed bedroom door, I heard my name being mentioned in the other room. I stepped out of the bedroom and walked half way down the hall; the muffled voices had escalated into loud shouting. My parents were stressed out, worried about what more they could do to get money to sustain the family. “The rent keeps going up,” my mother cried with sadness in her voice. Cloth was wrapped around her leg to prevent any further bleeding from the wound that the accident at the sweatshop had caused. “I can’t work, not with this injured knee,” she said through her tears. My father knelt down to comfort her, ending their loud discussion. “We’ll find a way to get money,” he whispered into her ear.

Unseen behind a door, I watched them for a moment, feeling as if I was going to burst into tears. I could not stand seeing them so upset over our unpaid bills. My father worked hard at his minimum wage job, and my unemployed mother tried to find ways of obtaining money by asking friends. Despite their hard work, they still could not make ends meet. My heart was breaking because I knew I could not do anything to fix our situation. I felt powerless; I wanted my family to get out of this desperate situation.

Since that night, two weeks after my 13th birthday, I began to value my education. I could have made other choices growing up. Both of my parents are alcoholics. Although they try to be good parents through their love and support, their addiction prevents them from getting out of their impoverished situation. I chose to do well in school and took a different path than my parents and brother.

I now see education as my ticket out of poverty and the opportunity for a meaningful career. That is why I am always on top of my schoolwork, taking AP classes to challenge myself academically. I always push myself to do well in every class by completing every single assignment, and studying for all my exams. I also completed any work that I missed because of an occasional illness or a family emergency. I even took two community college classes in Sociology and Spanish 2 to expose myself to a higher level of academics, and it was thrilling because I gained valuable insights on career paths such as sociology.

I feel that every minute I spend on my education is an investment in my future, and investment that will bring me closer to achieving my goal of understanding why my parents and older brother solicit drugs knowing that it ruins lives. As a child my oldest sister encouraged me to make wise choices. She would tell me, “You are who you are because of your choices, not the labels that others put upon you.” She said this when I told her the kids at my middle school were pressuring me to “be cool” by ditching class and smoking cigarettes. Growing up, she helped me cope with my problems at home. She has helped me realize that the world did not revolve around my life, and that in order to help others, I must first help myself by going to college.

I am a dedicated scholar motivated to graduate from university, to grow personally and professionally, and to inspire others in my community the way my sister inspired me.