BRANDON VILLANUEVA

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My family is Latino and we live in a predominantly white neighborhood. My father is a custodian and my mother cleans houses on the side of her custodial job to make more money for our family. They have worked very hard so I, and my siblings before me, could attend Catholic school. Given their sacrifice and working so many extra hours, I owe it to them to do well in school. That way I can become not only successful, but also lead a better life than they have. That’s all they’ve ever talked about to me — that they want me to become more: be successful, have a better life, and not have to work as many hours as they have to earn a living.

“My dad told us the only way to have a better life than he had was through an education.”

My parents have always been very honest with me. They don’t sugarcoat anything. And they’ve always said the life that they lead is not living for their work but working for their living. They don’t have to put in so much extra work for me to be able to come to Catholic school, and to put two other children through Catholic school, but they’ve chose to do so because they want the best for us.

I see many people who are more privileged than I am who do not try hard at school despite what they are given. Being a minority and having the same opportunity they have means a lot because my mother and father have worked hard so that we could become equals in a sense. My parents set high expectations on me and I try to meet and exceed those. At Gross High School I’ve been involved in tennis, football, soccer, student counsel, and national honor society.

My dad used to wake up at 4 a.m to go to his first job. He would finish around noon to go to his second job. I would be sleeping by the time he finally came home. My mom would wake up around 7 or 8 a.m. to go clean two or three houses each day. Then she would go home to make us food and then go to her next job. She too would come home after I was asleep.

When my brother was younger, he told my dad he wanted to be just like him. But my dad said, “No. I want you to have better.” And growing up, my dad told us the only way to have a better life than he had was through an education.

A high quality education should be available to everyone because, no matter what walks of life you come from, whether from a high income family or a low income family, education can provide you with the supports to overcome the barriers placed on you by society and allow you to have a better future for yourself and for your children. School choice is parents being able to decide what school to send you to, what type of education you receive. Parents should be able to make that decision because nobody knows a child better than his or her parents. I am grateful for my school and for my parents willingness to work hard so I can have better.

BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE
BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE