My family is Latino and we live in a predominantly white neighborhood. My father is a custodian and my mother cleans houses while also working 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 owed it to them to do well in school. That way I could 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. They have always said the life that they lead is not living for their work but working for their living. They didn’t have to put in so much extra work for me and my two siblings to attend Catholic school. But, they chose to do so because they want the best for us. Without their hard work and the assistance of private donor scholarships, I never would have been able to attend the schools that I did.
Private donor scholarships helped make my parent’s dream a reality. 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. I cannot imagine how much more my parents would have had to work if we didn’t receive scholarships.
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 education.
My parents chose private schools for multiple reasons: smaller class sizes, more personalized classroom experiences, and the ability to form meaningful relations with my teachers. My parents set high expectations for me and I tried to meet and exceed those. At Gross High School I was involved in tennis, football, soccer, student council, and the national honor society.
Because of these opportunities and qualities, I could develop into a student well-prepared to take on the rigorous needs of higher education. Because of that preparation, I was put in a place that allowed for fantastic scholarly opportunities and achievements. Without the opportunity, support, and practice that private schools permitted me, I would not have the life-changing opportunities I have now.
Growing up, I saw many people who were more privileged than me. When they did not try hard at school despite what they were given it was easy to be upset. Being a minority and having the same opportunity they did meant a lot; my mother and father had worked hard so that we could become equals in a sense. I thought that I was upset with my peers, but I was actually upset at an unfair system. The reality is that my parents shouldn’t have had to work so hard so I could have received an equal quality education; having an equal quality education from the start should have been the standard.
Quality education should be available to everyone regardless of whether they are from wealthier families or financially struggling situations. Quality education can be the reason an individual’s life changes for the better. The educational opportunities, environment, and support of a school have an essential impact on children’s lives. Deciding where to send their children to school will enable parents to better set their children up for success in life. Everyone has what it takes to lead a positive and successful life; some individuals just need the tools to do so. A choice in education is the best way to ensure equal access to those tools.