This is a guest post by Jorge Armando Morales Aguila, who was born in San Luis Teolocholco, Tlaxcala, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States in 2008. He is a first year, first generation student currently attending the University of Rochester, where he majors in political science. This piece first ran at Education Post.
When I was about 7 years old, I immigrated to the United States from Mexico. It was 2008 and I arrived in New York City seeking a place known for its diversity and limitless opportunities. But once I stepped foot in a classroom, I was met with a segregated environment.
My experience in the public education system is one that has been lived by thousands of students, many playing catch-up in their classroom and lacking the resources that they need in order to be successful.
Being a part of OneGoal, a college access and success organization, helped me get and stay on track. Being able to develop a relationship with my mentors and simply being part of the program not only contributed to my academic success, but it further educated me on the failing education system in New York City.
Before OneGoal, I was not the student nor the person that I currently am. The program has challenged me not only academically, but also personally, and now I have a better understanding of what I’m truly capable of. With help from my mentors, I continue to challenge myself to be a better person every day.
This is one of the main reasons I decided to get involved with Teens Take Charge, a student-led movement for education equity in New York City. As if living during this time in history wasn’t enough, our schools are still segregated and the Black and Latino students still sit in classrooms that are full of Black and Latino students. I often thought someone should do something about this, so now I am.
Through my work with Teens Take Charge, I have been able to meet other great youth advocates and many of them continue to inspire me by their work and their experiences. It’s these experiences that have not only captivated me, but have also captivated many of the supporters to Teens Take Charge and many of our allies.
This student-led coalition has created events to educate people in our communities about segregation in our public schools. And we’ve also given the public our perspective, one that in many cases is not taken into consideration. Our opinion matters and we should have a say in policies that directly affect us.
Teens Take Charge has developed policies that hope to change the inequalities that are currently present in our education system and continue to amplify student voice.
Now, as a freshman at University of Rochester, I hope to double major in political science and international studies. And, if there’s time, I’ll double minor in economics and Spanish. I hope to someday go to law school, but time will tell. Eventually, I want to do community organizing and community engagement.
I really just want to help people and the communities that have been marginalized for so many years. I want to help people understand each other a lot better. A lot of problems rise from lack of knowledge, so I want to educate people and the community.
That’s the ultimate goal. Education is the key for the future.