Escalera college bridge program has been a key fundamental stepping stone into not only my high school education but also my post-secondary education. I am without a doubt ever grateful to my three youth coaches. Unlike many inner city youth I was fortunate enough to find Jorge, Denny and Jenine. With my parents always working I received little encouragement as to how to approach many obstacles after leaving high school and starting college. Through Instituto del Progreso Latino I have been given opportunities I would have never dreamed of, having been part of previous school systems, not one has come close to what Instituto and to what Escalera program has offered me and many other youth who have been lucky enough to work with these institutions. I was blessed with three great youth coaches whose help has gone above and beyond all my exceptions. They have helped me get summer internships, taken me to workshops in other states, and they took me to visit my dream school, Northern Illinois University (NIU), which I am proud to say, thanks to their support, I am now attending.
The National Council of La Raza conferences in California and the summer internships were things I would have never dreamed of. Always labeled as a trouble maker in my old schools, while other students were enjoying many activities, I so often recall being locked in a room with the other “troubled youth.” It was honestly very demoralizing and made me hate school making me feel I was not up to par or anywhere near the standards that were expected, I felt that my other schools and teachers never truly invested time in me. Escalera and Instituto saw hope in me and invested time in me to help me build up my character and my discipline. I remember thinking that my high school diploma would be as far as I would go but Jorge, Denny, and Jenine worked diligently with me and made me apply to universities and went that extra mile. When I thought I had no way of getting to DeKalb for my interview my youth coach brought me and stood by my side as I received my acceptance to Northern Illinois University. I am now happy to say that after not believing that I would make it into a University I am currently enrolled in NIU pursuing a double major one in Mechanical Engineering and the other in Business Finance with a minor in political science.
I am working with the S.O.L. (Supporting Opportunities for Latinos) organization at NIU our goal is to bring the Latino community closer together in our university and make sure our Latino peers make it to graduation. I hope to take these things and build on them continuing forward towards graduate school. My dream is to be able to give back and help other inner city youth learn the importance of education and that college does not have to be a dream, it can be a reality. The simple fact to it is, none of these things would have been possible for me if I did not have Escalera guiding me to the point I am at today. Escalera is an amazing program I would recommend to any high school student who has the desire to better themselves and make it to what they want to be in life.