My mom immigrated to the United States. It was important for her to give us a future she couldn’t have. I started attending La Progressiva Presbyterian School in Miami, FL in kindergarten. I wasn’t aware I was going to a private school, let alone on a scholarship, until high school. I didn’t really appreciate my education or my opportunity to attend a private school.
Students at La Progressiva who had experienced public school would say public school was better and I was missing out on clubs and activities. So, when it came time for high school, I begged my mom to let me attend my neighborhood public school. My mom was very persistent. She didn’t want me to leave La Progressiva because she knew all the brutal things my older brothers went through in the public school.
One of my brothers was an introvert and the language barrier didn’t make it easy for him. He went through terrible bullying. The bullies would kind of prey on the weak. The students would follow him home and beat him up. There were many times when he came home with blood on his shirt. He would also skip classes to avoid the gang activity in the school. That transformed him and he wasn’t the same after that. My mom would go to the school and complain but the school administrators would say ‘there’s nothing we can do.’ They gave her tips and stuff, but there was never any solution to the bullying. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly after graduating from high school.
Despite this experience, my mom respected my wishes to attend a public school. And I started at a new high school in the ninth grade.
It definitely wasn’t what I expected. At the public schools, I noticed that the teachers weren’t as aware of what was going on with students personally or academically. At La Progressiva they did. I could talk to any of the administrators at any time. The school was more like a family and I undervalued that.
I thought that public school would challenge me more because that’s what I heard. I actually found none of the materials to be challenging. I was in honors and AP classes in every single subject because that’s how advanced I was. I’d learned the materials being taught my freshman year in middle school.
My faith is very important to me and I felt my faith was challenged. There were so many different beliefs and I respected that but no one seemed to respect mine. I believe God is this all powerful being and he will always be there for you, but you cannot talk about that. And there was no prayer in the classes. La Progressiva encouraged my faith and for me to lean on God with everything.
I thought in public school I would join all these clubs and activities, and there were more clubs and activities. But it was challenging because it was based on who you were associated with not necessarily being enrolled at the school.
“After I graduate from high school, I plan to study medicine to become a pediatrician.”
I spoke to my mom and the administrators at La Progressiva. They told me I was welcome to come back. So, I weighed out the pros and cons of La Progressiva. The pros outweighed the cons. I went back to La Progressiva in the tenth grade.
Today, I am in the eleventh grade and I plan to graduate from La Progressiva. After I graduate from high school, I plan to study medicine to become a pediatrician. I thought I was missing out on something when in reality, I had everything I needed and more at La Progressiva.
I would like to say thank you to the lawmakers who make school choice possible. Scholarship programs open a gateway for students to be able to get a better education in a safe, more reliable, and healthy environment. I hope lawmakers will continue to fight for scholarship programs like mine, because I definitely believe more students should be given this opportunity.