Winner 2018 Jesus Rodriguez
Growing up, I truly believed that I was destined to continue the vicious cycle of poverty within my family. I believed this because of my family’s scares resources and limited education. Throughout my life, I have faced significant financial hardships and educational obstacles, but was able to rise above them by working towards self-improvement that lead to my triumph as a student, and growth as leader with clear goals for myself.
I don’t believe leaderships is something that only few possess or is a commodity that can be taught, but is a quality within every person that radiates possibility, change and hope to others. Throughout my life, I have been the type of person that steps up when things get tough, someone who charges at problems head on. I focus on possible solutions and work towards them. I am a strong, smart and compassionate person determined to shape a better future for myself, my family and those around me. I have always felt strongly about giving back to those in need and investing my time into activities that serve a purpose greater than myself. My life experiences and involvement with civic groups and community service have helped me define what leadership means to me, and the role it will play in my life moving forward.
I am the fourth child out of five, and come from a Mexican immigrant family that struggles to get by. My parents’ education is limited to the third grade, and my three older siblings only completed high school; due to lack of finical aid, they were unable to attend college. As a child, I spent my weekends and summers working for my father’s small landscaping business. These summers taught me the significance of being a hardworking and responsible person. I was entrusted to operate expensive and dangerous machinery, but did it gladly because I knew that I was contributing to my family. My father struggled to put food on the table after he was let go by many of his employers, we had to get on food stamps and tightened our belt, cutting back on several things to save money. In school, I was categorized as an incapable and dumb student by my teacher and peers; because of this stigma, I was never allowed to be challenged in school for fear I would fail. With great effort, I significantly raised my grades and reached the appropriate reading level. I realized that the only way to change their impression of me was to prove that I am intelligent and academically capable of great things, I became proactive in regards to my education.