Operation Graduation 2015: How Ombudsman Helped Me (Dekalb, Ill.)
Before coming to Ombudsman I was facing a lot of hardships and was making things harder on myself then they already were by making bad decisions. The biggest of my problems were bad influences, substance abuse, poverty, severe depression, and limited options. These problems will be presented in a certain chronological order of events and hardships. They’re all linked together in a way. I’m going to explain all these problems thoroughly without holding back so you can get a vivid picture of how Ombudsman literally saved me.
I came to the United States when I was about 6 years old. Like a lot of Mexicans I came here illegally, although I did not know what I was doing. I was merely following my beloved parents. Well my mom at least because at the age of 3 my biological father left my mother and I to fend for ourselves. He left to the land of opportunity and promised to make money and send us some back to Mexico. I don’t remember all the details but it was a really sad moment in my life. I did not hear from him at all again until years later. The trip to the Promised Land is not an easy one. I was not conscious enough back then but I do remember being really scared. We had to cross this huge river where I had heard a lot of people lost their lives just for the idea of living a better life.
I cried and my mom cried with me. My step father who manned up and became what I now call my dad calmed me. He told me everything would be okay and I trusted him. The trip here cannot be put into words of how hard and sad it was. All the things I saw and experienced on my way over here will forever be in my head till the day I perish. It ended up being that a 6 year old innocent little boy managed to not die during the trip. I ended up here in DeKalb, Illinois. At 6 years old I had already faced tremendous hardships than most people will face throughout their whole lives.
When I came here I experienced what people call culture shock. Everything was so much different than my home land, at least what I remember of it. Different but better I thought. I mean, it had to be; my parents and I risked our lives coming here. Not only that, but left our families behind in Mexico which I do not know if I will ever get to see again. So I had to adapt quickly at 6 years old.
Call me what you want and curse me all you want but one thing I’ve always been and will be is smart. I enrolled in school in the middle of second grade shortly after arriving here. They did not want to accept me however because I didn’t know any English at all. They wanted me to redo the whole year the upcoming school year. This did not happen however because I was so advanced in many other things.
The kids here were barely learning how to do somewhat complicated addition and subtraction when I was already multiplying and dividing. It felt good because they gave me a chance, and in the end, that’s all I’ve ever needed. But not all was well because I was out casted for not knowing the language. It made me sad a little but more than anything it pushed me to try my best to learn the language. I got moved up to third grade, I remember struggling to read very basic one sentence per page books. I tried and tried though, and by the end of third grade I was reading small chapter books. It took me 1year to learn how read and write English and successfully communicate. It felt good.
All through elementary, middle school, and freshman year of high school I was one of the smartest kids in my class. I excelled in math. Moreover, the kid who did not know any English a few years back had mastered the language. Even though it was my second language I was reading and writing better than most kids that had lived here their whole lives. I’m not saying this to sound better than them but to give you guys a picture of the tremendous progress I had made. Elementary and middle school years were sweet and good years for me.
The beginning of high school I started to see the world for what it really was and not what I thought it was or would be. More serious and grown up problems started to unfold. I started being out casted again because my parents and I honestly think it was because we are poor. We lived in an old home and I still live here currently, although I’m moving soon so that’s good news I guess. I was made fun of for being what people call trailer trash. It bothered me a lot at first but I learned how to cope with it.
Along with other insults for not acting a certain way, for not being like everyone else, for being “weird” for not being interested in the same things my generation is, and for not wearing the best clothes. It was sad but I recently learned something valuable by those insults. To not care what people say or think. But back in those years I had not learned that yet. It really got to me.
How everyone had better things. How everyone had more options than me. How everyone could drive their cars and have a job but I could not. Not because I did not want to, but because I was impeded. I got really depressed and discouraged because I thought I couldn’t reach my ultimate dream, to be successful. What did it matter if I was smart? In the end I couldn’t go to college because I didn’t have the money and couldn’t even apply in the first place I thought. I started acting out.
I figured out I could be part of the “cool” kids if I was bad and so bad I was, to fit in, to stop the insults and to stop being the outcast. I was really lost in this period of time. This is when I started making bad decisions. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, the very bad wrong crowd. Before I realized I was doing drugs almost every day and drinking every weekend. I was skipping classes and ditching school. I was putting my future and life at risk. It was that bad. I did this though to stop the thoughts.
After years of being insulted it got to me. Life knocked me on my butt and I stayed down a while. I was self-medicating to stop the thoughts of failure and being less than other people I thought, to stop my depression. My biological father tried coming back into my life at this point which made things worse. My girlfriend, which happened to be my first true love, that I had relied on for happiness and support and had been dating for 2 years cheated on me.
I know now that that’s how life is and it’s not the end of the world, but at the time it was a very sad truth, one that I’m sure everyone has gone through at some point in their lives. I was really depressed and confused. I started self-medicating more and more. I got arrested a lot in those times for various reasons, this lead to my parents being disappointed in me, which really hurt me. I had completely and utterly lost my self. Thoughts of suicide started creeping in. I was sent to the hospital by a school counselor and was diagnosed with severe depression. I was sent to a therapist and got the help I needed.
At this point in time is where I found my way back and slowly stared seeing the light at the end of a very dark and long tunnel. I was sent to Ombudsman. My freshman year I had got all credits, my sophomore year I got a few, and my junior year none at all. So coming into Ombudsman I had a lot to do. Depending on what high school you go to its safe to say it can be a very nasty environment that not everyone is suited for. This was the case for me. I was able to get away from the bad influences at the high school that triggered me to do bad things. This left me with very few friends but I realized that those weren’t friends at all later on. It also helped me get rid of the social pressures that I was put through because I was poor and different than others.
The teachers at the high school labeled me as a bad kid, when I really was just lost and needed a hand, so they didn’t like me much which then made them not help me much. Here at Ombudsman I was not judged for whom I had been or what I had done. The teachers here helped me a lot. And I cannot ever thank them enough for what they did, for actually caring about me and my success and future, for believing in me and giving me a chance, which is all I ever needed. At the start of my senior year I had 13 credits. In my school district I needed 23 credits to graduate. This meant that I needed to get 10 credits in one school year, in other words I had to do almost half of my high school in one school year. I knew it was going to be tough, but I also knew I could do it. I worked my butt off and I did do it; in fact, I broke the record in the Ombudsman I went to for most classes finished in a semester. And here I am now, graduating high school.
All odds have been against me my whole life. With those odds pointing that I should have never even made it here, that I should have gave up on school and life, that I should have took my life away, that I should not be here now. But here I am. I am stronger than I ever was, I am smarter than I ever was, and I am wiser than I ever was. We are our own biggest critics and enemies but we are also our own biggest helpers and motivators.
I feel like because I keep beating the odds I am destined for greatness. I come from the lowest beginnings you think of. I will continue to beat the odds and reach my goals and dreams and then some. Hopefully become a nurse anesthetist, which is my current goal and dream. I couldn’t have done this without the help of these awesome and caring teachers. I couldn’t have done it without Ombudsman. Thank you for giving me a chance.
Categories: Education Resources, Success Stories
Tags: DeKalb, Illinois, Operation Graduation