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My path to school choice

I didn’t know it then, but I was very lucky to have access to many school choices when I was growing up. First, I went to La Esperanza, which means “the hope.” This school was rich in talent and resources, and it was also free of charge for the people who worked there and/or at the sponsor’s company. That company believed in giving a high-quality education to its employees’ children. My mother worked there as a secretary and so did my dad for a while.
At La Esperanza, the sons and daughters of the assembly line workers received the same state of the art education as the children of the top executives. From math competitions to volleyball championships, its students proved to be as good or better than the ones attending the most prestigious private school in the country, demonstrating that given the chance, any child can flourish.
When the time came for me to go to middle school, my family was going through a very rough patch. Unable to provide for us, my mother secured a partial scholarship from a very reputable boarding school. My sister and I found in this school not just a place to learn, but also a true refuge that stopped, at least for a couple of years, the profound instability of our lives.
When it was time for high school, my mom had managed to put a roof over our heads, so we returned to our home in Santiago.
As many government run institutions in the Dominican Republic of my youth, the public schools in my hometown were a disaster. After working for months without a salary, the teachers often had to go on strike to force the administration to pay them. The public premises were falling apart, the libraries were nonexistent, and the overall climate was tense, to put it mildly.
My mom did not want us to become another statistic, so she decided to send us to a private school. This was not an easy decision to make. She was already struggling each month to make payments.
Then, when I was a sophomore, noticing that I had trouble waking up in the morning, mom changed us from morning classes to the afternoon schedule offered at the same location. More awake now, my grades started to improve. By the end of that journey, I graduated with honors. Shortly after, I received an academic scholarship to study French in Paris, France. As a student abroad, I backpacked through Europe, visiting museums, making new friends, and learning about other cultures.
As I look back, I realize all the choices I had as a child and the many opportunities these choices created for me. If today I enjoy a much better life than the one my mother had, it is thanks to those wise choices she made for us, for our education.
I passionately believe in school choice and in giving especially disenfranchised families the chance to change the trajectory of their lives through education. And, because I am living proof of how school choice helped me beat the odds, I proudly work at expanding its scope.

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