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WAQUEL JONES

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I come from a large family. I am the youngest of four brothers and six sisters. I love my siblings, but I don’t want to be like them because most of them didn’t finish high school. They work long hours and are still barely getting by. I knew that to be different, I had to go to a good high school, then a good college, and get a good degree to live a good life. It is important to me that I get a high-quality education.

After my father passed away from cancer when I was 10, my family always seemed to struggle. But, when I was beginning middle school, we experienced some extreme hardships that forced my family to move from up North to Miami, FL. When we first moved here, I attended my district public school. I decided to change schools. To attend a safer and better middle school, I had to wake up extremely early to catch two buses and a train.

When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my mother was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Some days were so bad that she couldn’t walk. She decided to move in with one of my older sisters up North for extra assistance.

I’ve always tried to stay focused on my goals and maintain a positive attitude. So, when I heard about Christopher Columbus High School, I knew I wanted to attend. I thought this school would be the best option for me and my future if I wanted to do something with my life. I had to find a way to stay in Miami and pay private school tuition. The school is Catholic and Marist. I am neither. I didn’t care about the religious differences; I maintained focused on getting a quality education.

“I know that my scholarship could have gone to someone else. I don’t want to waste the opportunity I’ve received.”

To pay for school, I receive the Step Up For Students scholarship. To stay in Miami, I’ve been fortunate to live with another student’s family during the week and a family friend on weekends. My family is very supportive of my decision. They show up to all of my academic events and all my sports activities. They always come to show me support. My family is proud of me for choosing this school.

Today, I am a senior at Columbus. I’ve received the Step Up scholarship all four years, and I am grateful. I know that I have to work hard to make sure I’m worthy of the scholarship. I know that my scholarship could have gone to someone else. I don’t want to waste the opportunity I’ve received.

I love my school because we are a brotherhood. For college, I am deciding between Florida State University, University of Alabama, University of Tennessee, and Louisiana State University. I plan to major in computer science and become a software engineer.

Maybe my siblings’ lives would have been different if they had the option to attend a different school. Maybe they could have gone to a safe school. Maybe they could have gone to a school where the teachers gave them extra help. Maybe a different school would have positively impacted their lives, too. That’s why I believe in school choice.

BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE
BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE