Blog: Luggage Drive For College Bound Students

Univision.com | Jul 23, 2013 | 10:34 AM

By Adan Gonzalez

“Greetings from Spain! The walking dream continues because I am now studying abroad, and having an”
I'm a sophomore at Georgetown University, where I'm double-majoring in government and sociology with a double minor in business and education. I aspire to make my family proud, to make a difference in the world, and one day to become the governor of Texas.
Greetings from Spain! The walking dream continues because I am now studying abroad, and having an amazing experience.
Before I left home, I organized my first community event, named the "Dallas Building Scholars" which consisted of workshops to prepare students and parents for the college process.
Now, I need your help again, below is information about the First Annual Dallas City Wide Luggage Drive that Education is Freedom, University Crossroads, and the Si Se Puede Network are sponsoring. 
This message is important because of my community.
As you might remember, my name is Adan Gonzalez. I am a son of two immigrants. I am a student, a dedicated organizer, a U.S. Collegiate Boxer and someone that believes education is our only freedom.
I was raised in inner city Dallas. My parents migrated to this country from Mexico. Rarely have things come easy for our family, struggle is common.
And while I love my hometown, it was often a tough place to grow up.Some of my most vivid memories as a kid are of my parents sitting in the living room, worrying about being ableto pay rent.
Or, watching Child Protective Services take my friends away from their parents.
It was common to see kids I knew my whole life decide to drop out of school to join gangs, or become drug dealers.
Those of us who did stay in school were forced to use textbooks that were decades old. A lot of times we had to sit on the floor because there weren’t enough desks, and the heating and cooling systems never worked.
I was the first in my family to leave home for college. As savvy as I thought I was, asking everyone for tips and advice on how to prepare for my journey, sometimes it’s the seemingly simple things that get overlooked.
Since I left early for a summer bridge program, graduation was only one week prior to my departure. I had no time to work and save money.
So, my parents, with tears in their eyes, hugged me good-bye; my dad gave me the only $100 he had and my mother handed me her rosary.
Little did I realize, I only had one luggage bag and at the airport it was overweight. After the fee, I was left with $10 in my pocket and two plastic bags.
That was a moment and feeling that I will never forget. It’s an experience that we might be able to avoid for another student.
So, I need your help. I am partnering with EIF to collect 50 sets of luggage for college bound students in the program.
The luggage may be gently used or a donation of only $50 will allow us to buy a brand new 5 -piece luggage set.
We will present the luggage to students in a low-key reception on August 9, 2013. If interested, donors will have the opportunity to meet and offer invaluable advice to recipients.
In my neighborhood, we dream of graduating high school, oftentimes, unaware of the challenges that lie beyond.
Now, I am living a new dream by obtaining a higher education from Georgetown, and I know it’s my duty to makesure other students who have dreams like I do, obtain an opportunity to reach their full potential.
Let’s join together, look ahead, and help relieve one, seemingly small, obstacle of going to college.
I need your help.
Si se puede
 

A message to educators, parents and students

A couple of years ago I graduated high school and served as the Dallas ISD Teen School Board President. While I served my term I noticed something that is ignored yet its effecting students all across the country.
Students do not expect much from being a student, many believe that failure is the only option, that school is a facility to kill time, that school is only for “smart people”, where students feel teachers do not believe and care about them, where students feel administrators distant themselves for students to reach out to them.
I’ve been very lucky and have always had my parents support, and they are the reason I keep pushing forward, my dream is to finish their American Dream, and I am not special, most all students carry dreams, but how much does our school systems around the country truly care, to help us fulfill them? Students believe the offices downtown do not.
Situations, people, years. . .Many factors have contributed to the inspiration I feel and communicate. As a child, I had no choice but to face difficulties too many other boys and girls relate to.
I watched my parents worry when they could not pay rent or understand bank problems. Immigration officers searched for my undocumented uncle, while Child Protective Services collected children belonging to our neighbors.
Kids I knew left school to sell drugs, join gangs. That same school suffered a lack of heating and cooling. Sometimes the cafeteria ran out of food. Just like thousands of kids I stayed in school, sometimes shivering, sometimes sweating. I felt afraid many times during my childhood.
Quickly, I had to learn that I could watch as fear pushed me back or I could act and allow it to pull me forward. I decided on the latter.
I believe that in order to improve the performance and better urban districts, it needs to start by faculty creating an environment that students feel comfortable in, give students the exposure of the outside world, not just the metroplex, and give the voice to students on what can be done to stop the bureaucracy of our educational system.
NO, I do not mean having parties, displaying movies, or going on field trips every week, but to actually show a student as faculty you care for that individual regardless of their academic work. For example, my principal Mrs.Kircher will sit with my classmates during lunch and ask us about our day and not just to complain about the school behavior.
When students have to bring printing paper as extra credit for teachers to print notes, it is clear that a lot of issues cannot be handled due to lack of funding, but something that can really make up for it is the parent involvement as volunteers, programs to have parents involve through out the year will benefit the school and strengthen the community. Because I know hundreds of parents see us, students, in the corner of shops trying to wash cars to raise money for school activities.
I am now in my second year at Georgetown University, never could I would be here. I won over a million dollars in scholarships, to cover my education till graduate school, but I am no one special, I received an ESL education at James Bowie Elementary, I received education at the Atwell Law Academy and moved to the W.H Adamson high school.
I did not have straight A’s and I also received a couple of referrals just like any student. But my freshman year community service and leadership opportunities open new doors for me. I learned to find mentors, to receive moral support but obtain undivided attention from advisors and board member themselves, making it clear that they believed in me.
So to whoever has the opportunity to read my opinion, and agree or disagree its okay, that is the beauty of a having the opportunity of a higher education, I will continue to learn and grow:
- Superintendents and board of trustees across the country please be willing to work hands on with students not just pose for pictures, to be a flexible not just selfish with the same old traditional ideas, to be a true leader that does not invest media time in trying to make people believe in him/her but instead cares about students believing in themselves, and understand that its more than being the “boss”, but act as father, because the decision he or she makes will benefit our future. And mentor a couple of students!
- Teachers and principals, believe in your students, we can only accomplish what you allow us to take on. Encourage us students, to understand problems, and motivate us to work to find a solution. Do not teach to pass a test, do not teach students to memorize facts we will forget in months, make learning fun, allows us students the opportunity to grow. I believe that by raising, instead of lowering expectations of students helps encourage students that they can go to college, and that they can be someone successful. Investing on building student leaders across campuses will benefit the district not only does it aid the connection between students and faculty but it allows students themselves to grow as individuals.
- Parents and students, nothing about “higher education” is easy, but everything about it is worth it. Students, nothing will be handed to you, you need to keep your ears/eyes open for any type of information and opportunities. Keep a positive attitude when the workload seems impossible to overcome, you will have to get it done regardless if you stress or not. Parents support your children in anything we do. Sometimes you will disagree, sometimes you will dislike getting up early in the morning to give us rides to events, sometimes you will dislike us from being to involve, but it will all be worth it. And remember that you are not alone, no one is an expert in attaining a higher education, use all resources as possible!
- America, students cannot wait any longer, for students are tired of not being represented. Educators, businessman and politicians are not hearing this voice, the sound of deprivations of many kinds. These lawmakers live life by theories and statistics, nickels and dimes. But why listen to me? A 20-year-old student product. Well, they know numbers. I know faces.
 

YES it’s true, bilingual scholars, are special to applications

YES it’s true, bilingual scholars, are special to applications… via former post brandlateen.com
A man of awesome personality and the winner of my trust, Raul Gonzalez, my father, made numerous life choices for me when I was younger. And even today he continues to influence my decisions.
All over the country children of the appropriate age are getting ready to start kindergarten and their parents are making the decisions about which elementary school they will attend. Nothing is unusual about this process. However for Lateen parents there is another step, another choice they must make, and it’s a choice that is essential to our future.
My dad’s expectations have allowed me to never settle for good when I can be the best and I thank him because it has helped me develop into a well-rounded person. I wasn’t born lucky, everything I have achieved has taken a lot of sacrifice and hard work.
To me and many others, being well-rounded means excelling in sports, academics and leadership roles. But to my dad it takes a little more. To him, being well-rounded means not only excelling in the areas I just mentioned, but also doing it in two languages: English and Spanish.
Years ago, my dad faced the choice I mentioned earlier. Because of his beliefs about what it means to be well-rounded he made the choice of teaching me and my brothers Spanish and making it our first language at home, even though the country where we were born is English-based.
From the first words I was taught, my accent was formed and as I enrolled in school my dad made sure I was learning more Spanish than English criteria. This type of learning is officially called English as a Second Language (ESL).
What exactly is ESL? It’s the provision of appropriate educational support, particularly for kids who come from a language background other than English or speak a language other than English at home as their main language.
Many Lateens, like myself, start the first years of school in an ESL environment, and as we continue with our education catching up with English-only speakers becomes a little challenging. Learning in ESL classes is hard because when we learn something in Spanish, we then need to translate the knowledge into English and learn it again. It’s double duty!
Lateens struggle mainly in the area of vocabulary. Many of us also struggle with the tenses we use to write papers and essays. The brutal truth is that we write the way we speak.
So after years of practicing and struggling in both languages I finally learned to speak, read and write in both Spanish and English pretty well. My dad, as usual, was a witness of my improvement so I seized the opportunity and asked him why he felt learning in ESL classes was the best choice. His reasoning is below:
            I could help you with homework.            You will be able to communicate with your non-English speaking family.            You will be able to help me out when I need a translator.            You need to know the language society is going to accept.            It will be easier for you to know your roots.
After this conversation I went back to my room, smiling the whole way. Never did my dad know that because he chose for us to be bilingual he allowed me to be one step ahead of the English-only competition.

What makes a candidate unique, in an application, is demonstrating how 'well rounded' you are

Academic Success? Plenty of us focus on either having straight A’s on our report card, perfect attendance throug out the whole year, making an All-City Varsity team,  or winning first place in UIL(what is UIL?) competitions.
Do not misunderstand me. That is great in each of its respective fields, but I believe, what makes a candidate unique, in an application for college and scholarships, is demonstrating how "well rounded"  you are.
Well rounded? I know we hear it a lot and many of us don’t feel we are capable of achieving that, of being "well rounded" in others’ eyes. I know it’s hard to define and understand.  Some might argue that "well rounded" is only recognized from individual perspectives.
Nonetheless, I feel that it is possible to find a combination of activities that will have most anyone you meet see you as well rounded.
Here are my ideas of three levels of involvement that can make a difference.  I feel that they will always work if you combine three of the given choices! (of course, you can mix in activities, and, by the way, if you win awards/recognitions that always makes it better)
Bronze: • B Honor Roll Student- Regular Classes• Participating in a JV Team • Band Member
Silver: • A/B Honor Roll Student- Pre-AP Classes• Participating in more then one school team JV/Varsity• Band & Theater Member• Academic Decathlon Team & UIL Team • JobGold:• A Honor Roll Student -AP Classes• Varsity Athlete- more than one sport• Student Council/Green Team Member/Student Boards• Academic Decathlon Team/ UIL Team/ Science Club• Job/Internship• Volunteer Clubs!
*Be very careful, its not about joining as much activities as possible, you must excel or try your best in each, that means being active as much as possible, not just showing up once a month!
Why is being involved in school so important? Well, its simple.  It shows school spirit, commitment, responsibility, and work ethic! It allows the committee to see that you are willing to be flexible, willing to try new things, willing to take a challenge, and it shows time management!!! And, at its best, as I will discuss in a later post, it creates relationships within different circles in school so you get involved  with different crowds not just one.
Here is my personal result of being involved in different activities; it is an excerpt fromf my teacher’s college recommendation letter:
 I was Adan’s senior Advanced Placement teacher. Even though I have only had him in class last year, I have known him for four years as an up-and-coming top student of the school. Adan carries that type of magnetic persona; he meets and greets outside the circles in which most students operate, and he does so with ease and maturity. I watched a speech he gave once where he was directed to make himself look impressive.  He has so many things he can point to. He graduated as the salutatorian, he was the student body president, he was the student president for the whole Dallas district, and the list goes on. But it is not these achievements he focused on when all attention was on him. He instead spoke of his love for participating in sports, and how his hyper-competitive nature once just wanted to win at all costs. He began to recount soccer successes and failures and pointed out how he has come to recognize that the most important and most meaningful experience is being part of a team, the true pride of letting go of ego and propping up others so that together new heights can be reached that could never be achieved alone.  
Remember; never settle for good, when you can be the best! Si se puede!

What is a leader? Admissions committees aren't looking for 'Presidents', but commitment

The confidence by which I consider myself to be a leader is enough to encourage me to set new and impossible goals; many of which people think are not normal, but I am a tenacious young man.
Over the years, I have become unafraid to fail, and, as a result, I have risen to the many leadership roles listed in my application. Roles that at school have earned me the nicknames of 'Obama, Mr. Power, Mr. Magic, President to the second power, etc' but I don’t let it go to my head.
Instead, it just reminds me of the pressure I have to serve as a good role model.
Integrity and honesty may have won me the respect and praise that I receive; however it’s never enough for me. Even when I don’t win or when I fail to make the cut, I use it as an opportunity to learn from my mistakes.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my parents’ struggles and my leadership experiences is that I should never lower my expectations to meet my perfomance, but always try to raise my perfomance to meet my expectations
A leader is someone who works towards people believing in him, but a GREAT leader is someone that works towards helping people believe in themselves. On this post, I will briefly explain what type of Leadership Service will set your application apart from other great applicants.
While filling out an application for college admissions and scholarships, you will be asked to identify "leadership roles", "leadership experiences" etc.
To be a leader is not about having the title of President.  It is my impression that admissions committees aren’t that impressed with power-hungry individuals who have labels of "leaders" to ONLY boost their resume.
They are interested in seeing your commitment, seeing your passion through the activities you help happen, to see your capabilities to work as a team player, to see the work ethic you have, to see the ambition to set goals and actually accomplish them.
They are interested in understanding what motivates you to lead.  EVERYONE is a leader, but its up to you to take the challenge to meet and exceed your own expectations.  Trust me.  I understand being nervous and scared; it is normal.
But don’t live in fear, let the challenges push you to try new things! Trust me, scholarship applications love  seeing that willingness to push your limits!  So here are what I call the three levels of leadership experiences:
Bronze: • School Clubs/ Organizations (4 hours in a month)• Outside of School Clubs (7 hours in a month)• Volunteer projects (6 hours in a month)
Silver: • School Clubs/ Organizations (8 hours in a month)• Outside of School Clubs (9 hours in a month)• Volunteer projects (10 hours in a month)
Gold:• School Clubs/ Organizations (10 hours in a month)• Outside of School Clubs (16 hours in a month)• Volunteer projects (20 hours in a month)
Examples of my Senior Year Leadership Activities:
- Dallas Independent School District Teen School Board- President 2010-2011- W.H Adamson Senior Class President 2010-2011- L3 Mentors- President 2009-2011- DECA, National Winner- Chapter President  2009-2011- Participated in the International Leadership Academy - State & National competition winner.- UIL Academics-Team Captain 2008-2011- Participated in areas of number sense, social studies, physics and biology. Qualified as both a district winner and regional contestant for 2010.- Texas Leadership Forum, Member 2010- Dallas Young Lawyers Association, Member 2009 - present- National Honor Society, Member 2009 - 2011- Spanish Honor Society, Member 2008 - 2011

How to "build up" a scholar

Scholars lead the world, scholars change lives, scholars make a difference, and scholars win scholarships!
I believe there are three components that "build up" a scholar: Community Service, Leadership Experiences, and Academic Success.
What does that mean? No, it’s NOT all about "perfect" grades, NO, it’s NOT about being "President" of every organization at school and NO, it’s not about donating blood. It is a combination of all three components.
On this post, I will briefly explain what type of Community Service will set your application apart from other great applicants.
Applications for College and Scholarships; the community service section is very essential to the whole process of being selected.
The committees look for someone who is committed to giving back to humanity, someone that is capable of helping without expecting anything in return, and someone who wants to better understand a problem by being part of its solution.
I suggest three levels of Community Service, and, for each, I will use the same type of activities just with three different levels of involvement. Notice: Time commitment is the only thing that changes:
Bronze: • Recycle/ Clean Up Days (4 hours in a month)• Canned Food/ Toy Drives (7 hours in a month)• Homeless Shelters (6 hours in a month)• Mentoring/Coaching/Teaching (10 hours in month)
Silver: • Recycle/ Clean Up Days (8 hours in a month)• Canned Food/ Toy Drives ( 14 hours in a month)• Homeless Shelters (12 hours in a month)• Mentoring/Coaching/Teaching (20 hours in a month)
Gold:• Recycle/ Clean Up Days (16 hours in a month)• Canned Food/ Toy Drives (28 hours in a month)• Homeless Shelters (24 hours in a month)• Mentoring/Coaching/Teaching (30 hours in a month)
What happens when both applicants have the same type of community service, that’s when commitment to the service is crucial, remember committees want to see the impact you have made, and how it has allowed you to grow as a person.
What happens when an applicant has the same amount of hours, and the quality of community service is no different, well that’s when your other two components kick in (Leadership Experience, Academic Success)!
Below is my personal story of Community Service:
It has been seven years since I became old (and experienced) enough to help my boxing coach train others. We practiced at Anita Martinez Recreation Center Boxing Club in West Dallas, and there was something that hurt even more than the punches I endured: the "kids."
I became a role model to the younger group at the center. I worked with kids ranging from 6 to 12 in the after school program for two hours a day, five days a week, and I never quite knew what to expect. But I learned something new from them every day. If I was not helping them inside the ring, I was helping the kids with homework or any problems that they might have at home.
I was the youngest volunteer at the center; however, it has helped me become a mentor to most of them, since I can still relate to many issues they might have. At the center, I have been the soccer referee and Santa Claus at Christmas for two years now.
I am always reminded that my many hours of volunteer work over the years served as a great asset not only to the under privileged youth program, but to the welfare of the community.
I hope the kids know, from the little girls who call me "big brother", the little boys who tell everyone "Adan is my hero," each and every kid who allowed me to be a constructive part of their life in turn, made me a better person.
At the end of the day, trust me, when you get involved and volunteer, you will go to sleep very happy, knowing you made a difference.
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