I attend Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, FL. Surprisingly, Columbus was not my first-choice school. I explored my options, and after that, I finally chose and fell in love with Columbus.
My father was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia right before my freshman year, he was unable to work, and my grandparents were becoming very ill. Since my mother was the only one working now, we decided we should move in with my grandparents. I couldn’t move with them at first because they had to make room for me, so I went to live with my aunt. It was an abrupt change! I struggled a lot, especially academically. My usual urge to excel in school was nonexistent. Not long after, my mother stopped working to become my father’s full-time caretaker.
I had to do summer school after freshman year since my grades were so poor. My teachers were very accommodating and supportive, but they pushed me to get my life back on track. While sitting in summer school, one of my teachers said to me, ‘You really shouldn’t be here. You’re a bright kid.’
Right at that moment, I decided to make a switch. I decided no longer to accept the label of a victim of circumstance. Eventually, I quit football and took AP and honors classes. By the end of my junior year, I had the highest GPA of my entire high school career. I had a 1.75 GPA freshman year, and by the end of my junior year, I had a 4.7. It was a long and hard road. It feels good to be back on track. I appreciate how the guidance staff, teachers, and even my coaches helped me.
I recently learned I received the Step Up for Students scholarship to attend Columbus. I am appreciative that it kicked in at a time when my family needed it most.
I am waiting to hear back from a few universities, and I’m still thinking about what to major in. I’m thinking about marketing, economics, or law with a background in finance. Through Columbus, each summer, I was able to do an internship, and they have helped to shape what path I want to go down. I’ve done two internships in immigration law and one at MasTec, Inc.
Columbus is an all-boys Catholic school with a particular culture that works for me. Every school has its own culture. Every student needs to have a school choice to be able to go to a school where they’re comfortable. I’m not saying that the school in their vicinity isn’t meeting their needs, but all students should have the right to explore their options.
I believe all students should be able to attend whatever school they want, especially if they don’t have the money to afford it. Columbus is a private institution, it’s not free, but scholarships, like Step Up and its legislation, allow students like me to go to a school we couldn’t otherwise afford. Look at where I am now, despite my rough patches. I am very happy.