I walked into the Holiday Inn in Torrance proud, with my parents by my side. It was unusual for the most part because I never really understood why I was getting an award. It was the "Future Leaders Award Ceremony" where 30 of Los Angeles best students received congratulations for their "hard work, commitment, and community service".
I understood that but as I looked around I saw a separation. I saw an intriguing undertone, and question, to the whole ceremony that I had to understand quickly. Why did some of these students earn these awards? Was is favoritism or did they really deserve them?
In that group of people I only recognized two which were not from my school, Locke. In that group of people I saw, for the lack of a better word, Nerds and Jocks. I saw only three, or for the most part, five real students that had to learn to take real iniciative. I looked around that room and felt honored but also ashamed. I asked myself, "Did I truly deserve this?"
My biography read like a list:
* 3.7 GPA
* Cross Country and Track & Field Runner for four years
* Founder of a school organization dedicated to connecting the African American and Latino Cultures.
* Led 600 students (Actually 1,200 students, I pointed out) toward "The Path towards Enlightment (I helped them Walkout).
* Lead a petition drive that got signatures against Proposition 4437 (I got 800 or so signatures and sent them to Washington D.C.)
* A talented actor and writer (which surprised many because of my appearance) has written and directed two school plays. (That was incredible in itself since I wrote them in 9th and 10th Grade).
This is what was said but inside I felt like those words meant little. A key element was missing from this, the fact that I have worked since 11th Grade to help my family out. The fact that I have sacrificed for my family as much as I have sacrificed for my school.
I dared not to look directly at the other students only when they spoke about the walkouts because I did that for my parents. I walked from Locke High to City Hall (About 130 blocks) for my parents. Many other students did the same but many stopped when they reached Fremont High (30 - 40 blocks away). I was looking when they started the Petition Drive.
My organization, in colaboration with MeCHA, did everything possible to attain those school signatures. I wish I could have brought those people so they could be honored too but it was only for 30 "future leaders".
I heard outrageous GPA's: 4.24, 4.3, 4.05 etc. I heard lackluster community service that was seasonal, unlike mine and a few others. I heard pleas for attention and saw some students that recognized that these awards meant little. I looked around and felt an emptiness. I felt sad since there were other students that were not chosen because the either did not beg enough or did not have the grades necesary to go above the next highest GPA.
I did feel proud of one thing though, that I was able to accomplish so much knowing were I came from. I grew up knowing that there were certain paths that could be taken, some leading to uncertainty. I recognized I took the best path and that I have left a legacy. A legacy I will continue when I return to my school as a History Teacher. Why? I have understood one key for some kids to attaining their potential, a role model.
Those plays I wrote were generated through the intervention of my drama teacher. She knew I could write and perform but I had to learn to release that potential. It was her divine intervention that made me gain my respect through my words, not fists.
Another key thing that was missing from my award, the fact that my words were the thing that allowed me so much influence. If it would not have been for my drama teacher, Ms. Poydras, I would not be where I am today. It was this teacher which made me see the correct path if not I would be my homie, Temo.
Cuautemoc died in front of his home due to a drive-by a year and a half ago. We were both in a clique which I rather forget and strip from my past, but it is through this clique that we were able to meet and live. He died and the clique began to separate. Why? We became a target. I became a "Main-Head" due to a homie's incarceration. I was to lead these individuals into fights and primitive action. Why? I was their leader but with it came constant hate. Hate which I became proud of and accepted but I had to escape this "Life". I had to think about what I was going to earn later on in life. I did not want to be Temo. So I fell like a "bitch".
A few days before my birthday there was a rumble. I exercised my body to fatigue and left practice to go fight. I was knocked down quickly and easily, the way I wanted. Why? So after this occured nothing else would occur, but I was wrong. I wanted to defeat these individuals but it was my teacher who stopped me. Why? "You have too much to lose it all now." I escaped but I did not leave the vicinity.
I am a leader, I think. I make people listen, I hope. I have attained much, I wish. I will become something great, I dream. I will return to my school to tell this story and to influence another student(s) who is just like me.
I walked out of that Holiday Inn looking towards the setting sun and I wished upon the first star in the horizon. "I wish that this is not just another gift, I hope it is a sign." I got into the car with my parents and rode off.
Ms. Poydras this is a testament of your strength.
Temo this is your gift from Heaven.
Grandma I know that I owe you the World.
I will one day own a little and dedicate it to your soul.
I am a Future Leader, I hope.
I want to become the testament of the abilities contained adentro.
It took a comprehension of my past, present and futuro,
In order to discover the Mystical Creature.
This is contained here (In the corazon)
Born in Los Angeles from two immigrant parents. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Myspace: LPoeta