We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofRichard Flores

Ever since my sophomore year, my Uncle Edgardo, who lives in Seattle, always asks the following, “why and how do you handle so much on your plate?” My answer is  “ I don't know.” Honestly, I never really thought about it before, until this moment. 

We moved to America when I was 13.  I observed  my parents waking up at 4 am, hearing the blender and conversations going around the apartment that always woke me up.  I would not see them again often until  late at night.  I imagined myself working those jobs, especially when I went to work with my mom. My family has  devoted themselves to help  me realize  the importance of education .It feels like I need to return the favor by putting them in a place where they do not have to worry about money. 

Even though my grandmother died when I was only 12,  I still remember as she laid in a hospital bed, having many needles connected to her arm. It is because of her that today, I am the President of National Honor Society (NHS),  and Vice-President of the Class of 2021. I am proud of being a starter for my varsity football team and Track and Field. Additionally, I am one of the top three in my class holding a 4.75 GPA and  I will be attending college in fall of 2021 at Harvard University. It can be challenging to manage all of these activities sometimes, but I have learned during high school  how to manage my time effectively. 

The ability to provide myself with a few things I wanted, especially without having to ask my mom for money is what  pushed me to seek a part-time job in high school.  Surprisingly, I was hired at Starbucks at the age of sixteen, being the only “baby” of the store since everyone was nineteen or even older. Two years later, I am still the youngest employee. People now make the assumption that my age exceeds twenty not just by my looks, but my work ethic and knowledge of  the company.

Towards the end of my sophomore year, I was  accepted into  NHS. I was aware that this club was heavily involved with community service; however, I was unsure of my role. I remember hearing at a meeting  that all members were supposed to show up on Saturday to raise money. An event to go clean cars isn't necessarily the one thing you want to wake up early to, especially on a Saturday morning. Surprisingly, I was able to convince a good majority of my friends(outside of  NHS), to come to this fundraising event. I never expected so many of my friends to show up, and so few NHS members. I was shocked, but felt proud. I felt even more proud for contributing to run this event smoothly. When the first car showed up, I looked around waiting for directions and a lot of faces were blank; so I took the initiative to start washing the car, and guide the rest of the group on how to wash them.
Why do I do so much? I want to ensure that I will be able to provide a better life for my family. A life that doesn’t consist of a house where you have to worry about whether the electricity will be cut off or if there will be hot or running water. With the opportunities I am able to take advantage of because of my leadership in clubs and grades,  Not just graduating high school, but seeking a higher education in college to become the professional man my grandmother envisioned for me. I now realize without the pressure of my family, I wouldn’t be the high achieving student-athlete that I am today or be such a driven person. 

© Richard Flores. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.