Did you ever think whether you were ever going to make it past a High School Education? If you were from a low socio-economic area like I was, I am sure that there were many times that you dismissed being able to go to college due to different factors that made it hard for you to see attaining a college degree. For me personally, it was poverty, low grades, lack of role models, and a very low sense of self that kept me from thinking that I could ever pursue anything beyond a High School education.
The military was an option, but in many people's mind, it was looked down upon because that meant that you had to settle for the Government to babysit you and make you a man. My ignorance did not allow me to think that the military offered way much more than just being a grunt or killing machine for them, so I quickly dismissed it as an option right out of High School. I was also too much of a macho man, and I wasn't about to let any other man yell at me, tell me how I should stand, make my bed, how to answer, and especially when I could eat.
It wasn't until my senior year when one of my coaches and teacher, Mr. Torres, pulled me and my best friend aside to talk to us about going to college in Kalamazoo, Michigan that I even began to consider it as a possibility. I thought he was crazy thinking that I had even considered it. He sat us down and explained what the process of going to college was like. It still seemed so overwhelming, but since my buddy was thinking about it, well maybe I would try it too. At least I wasn't going to fail by myself, is what I thought.
My counselor had already advised me to either join the military or to start working at Whataburger because I did not have the grades nor showed the enthusiasm to pursue anything further. He talked to me one time and had already categorized me without knowing my full potential! One time- can you believe that?! I'm sure you can, because it probably happened to you too. Unfortunately, I bet this goes on every day still. Did you know you had access to your counselor? I didn't! I thought it was a place where only the real students would go, students that showed potential and had the money to dream about college. We all knew who those kids were. I also thought that if you went to see the counselor it was because you were in trouble or because they thought that you were a bit bonkers in the brain.
It is this reality that motivated me to co-write a book about everyone's right to believe that they can go to college if they make it a goal or a dream for themselves no matter what age you may be! It is written with the intent to show everyone that they all have access to their counselor and how he or she is there to guide them. We devote a whole chapter to the counseling process. "Capturing the College Dream" is based on some of the life events that occurred in my own life. Like Maricela, who is the main character in the book, I was raised by my paternal great aunt in a very low socio economic situation. My mother passed when I was five years old, my father was hardly around and when he was, he usually inflicted corporal punishment with extreme intensity. I fought for many years to know who I was, got tired of putting on a fascade and thought about ending it all several times. If it weren't for some very special people in my community who adopted me into their lives, I don't think that I would be here, let alone have been the first one in my family to graduate from college. Yes, I graduated from college and I have the military to thank for that as well. Yes, I joined the military after attending two semesters and forgetting to pay my college dorm bill. That's a story for another time. I am very grateful for what the military offered and taught me.
This is part of my story and the story of many students that continue to inspire me! This may also be the story for many of you that can relate to these struggles. We know that you will love the book- and remember that our goal is to sell many copies so that we can continue to work with at risk youth who need that extra guidance. All proceeds go to Guidance4U, a non-profit organization we founded and is dedicated to work with at risk youth to teach personal development skills, bullying prevention, and career awareness. You can purchase this great short story at, https://www.createspace.com/4072832?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026 and be a big part of the solution. With much appreciation and Love- Joe Mendoza and Omar Reza