In May of 2012, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. On that day, I reached a dream that was first thought up when I was born in Mexico. As kids, my parents could not afford to finish elementary school so they started working by the time they were 10 years old. When they had me, my parents were still teenagers. As I grew up, my parents shared the dream they had for me. They wanted me to get an education, be successful and do whatever I wanted to do. And one more thing -- to always look after my brother and sister. To help me reach those dreams, my parents left everything in Mexico and moved us to the United States when I was 9 years old.
My parents' sacrifice and emphasis on education and family has guided me throughout my life. I went to middle school and high school in south and east Los Angeles, areas plagued with gangs, drugs and alarming high school dropout rates. Based on my high school's dropout rate, I had a 50% chance to make it to graduation. But nothing was going to stop me from my dream of going to college. I received an A in every class I took in high school. I took all the AP classes available to me at my high school. As a freshman, I was Student Body Vice President and I was Class President for the rest of my time in high school. I was the captain of my school's Track and Field and Cross Country Teams. I did everything I wanted to do. In April of 2008, I received my acceptance letter to Harvard with a full scholarship. I accepted. And in June of 2008, I graduated as the valedictorian of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights.
From the day I received my acceptance to Harvard, my world changed. But I just didn't get it -- I thrived. I graduated with honors in one of the most challenging concentrations at Harvard after not receiving the preparation in my high school to do well in college, let alone Harvard. It was a combination of hard work and support from many people along the way that made this possible.
Today, I work as part of management team at McMaster-Carr. In a few years, I will apply to business school to pursue a Masters in Business Administration.