Saturday, December 20, 2008


By David Campos, 17, San Pedro High School

Imagine yourself growing up in a mixed race community, with two loving parents who came to this country from third world countries, neither of them having family, someone to offer them a helping hand and lacking an education.

This persona matches practically half of the parents in the low income area of my community. My father never made it past middle school due to the civil war that was taking place in El Salvador. They would take children and teens from their schools and villages and install them in the army.

Faced only with this option, he fled to the United Sates at the age of eighteen. He quickly had to become a man and find himself a job to survive in this nation. He later became successful father supplying me with the tools necessary to succeed.

My mother grew up on a field in Guatemala and she decided to give up her opportunity to receive an education to help her family in the household. She came to the United States at the age of seventeen looking for a brighter future. Despite knowing barely any English, she managed to receive a proper education. She returned to school and received her G.E.D. She then decided that she wanted to do something in the medical field. She attended college and earned her certification and became a certified medical assistant.

The world that surrounds me has made it clear that an education is important. My community has allowed me to view the opportunities that are given to people who have a good education. Being the first one in my family to attend college, I feel that it is my responsibility to graduate from college in order to repay my parents and everyone who has helped me make my dream of being an architect or civil engineer a possibility.

As I became older, I began to realize that the things that my parents could help me with academically were diminishing. My freshman year in high school, I realized that I had exceeded what my parents had learned in school.

I realized that I could no longer go to them for help, no matter the subject. When I entered my freshman year, I had no idea of what was in store for me throughout that year. Out of all the courses I was taking that year, the toughest was geometry.

It was a completely different type of math that required a lot of studying. I could never turn to my parents for help because they never got to this type of math when they were in school. I was forced to either look for help or take it upon myself to study harder to achieve the grade I wanted in that particular class.

Every day I did more than just the homework that was assigned to me. I even did the examples that are provided in the beginning of the section to make sure that I understood what I was doing. All the hard work paid off when I passed the class with one of the highest grades in the class.

Biology was my second hardest class that I had that year. At first it was simple, but as we progressed through the year it started to become more complicated. Not many people fully understood everything that was being taught to us, so my fellow classmates were not much help.

I asked the teacher a few times about what she had just gone over. Most of the time she clarified it for me, but sometimes she just made me more confused than I already was. That was when I turned to my parents for help.

I still remember what my mother said to me one night when I was studying for a biology test. She said, “Sorry, you know I would love to help you, but I never learned this.”

This was the precise moment of my life that I realized I could no longer go to my parents for help school-wise. Realizing that my parents could no longer help put obstacles ahead of me. Overcoming these obstacles have made me the person I am today. It has transformed me from a child with hardly any worries in this world into the person who takes initiatives and works hard to complete the task at hand no matter how difficult it may seem

Even if I do something incorrectly I demonstrate resiliency by getting back up on my feet and giving it as many tries I need to do it correctly.

During my tenth grade year I was forced to take a zero period in order to keep playing soccer for my school, which added an immense amount of stress and work to my already cluttered schedule.

Every day for twenty-five weeks I would stay until five o'clock for soccer practice; sometimes I would have to even stay until seven o'clock on game days because of the bus ride home after both Varsity and Junior Varsity teams had completed their games.

After I got home I would have to quickly eat dinner and bathe in order to get started on my homework. It was really stressful for me when I couldn't do a certain part of one of my assignments because I still had to do my other assignments from other classes.

It frustrated me that I wasn't doing it right, but I knew that I didn't have the time to retry it because I had to complete the other assignments so that I could get some rest. Some of my teachers even assigned homework on days before a big test. I took it upon myself to separate myself from my teammates and study on the bus and during the Varsity soccer games.

I would even study during meal breaks.

Through all this I still managed to find the strength and energy to keep up academically and to perform at my best throughout the soccer season. This part of my life has given me the experience necessary to balance my current hectic schedule. Apart from taking three rigorous AP classes and staying after school, I am preparing myself for the ACT and SAT, and I still manage to find the time after soccer practice to give back to my community.

I now go to the local Boys and Girls Club to tutor students because I want them to have someone who they can turn to for help and so that they don't have to go through what I went through. By doing this I'm hoping that they'll take it upon themselves to pay it forward by helping others, thus making it a better community to live in.