At the age of 13, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or the aspirations I wished to conceive. Being a first-generation student, I did not have the luxury of having mentors and the support that would lead me to aspire more than what surrounded me. In fact, all I knew was that I had an inviolable disposition to help others, but not my little brother. Not Jose, because he has developed a sense of urgency for building things and creating solutions, and is aiming to pursue a career in the STEM field, in fact, as a middle school student, he is already looking for ways to help others through his passion for engineering.
Having opportunities is often definitive upon the experience, guidance, and support you receive from your elders or more equipped family members, perhaps an older sibling, or programs that help guide you. My youngest brother is a product of the many trial and errors that my brother, sister, and I endured. With our guidance and my mother’s experience after getting three of her children into higher education and through the k-12 system, my brother will have the advice and resources that we lacked, and we could not be prouder of the accomplishments he will attain and all the dreams he has yet to achieve. Indeed, it’s a never-ending “American dream”.
Ever since he was a little boy, at the age of three, my brother loved to draw and make the most creative set of lines I’ve ever seen. Until this day, I have kept every single drawing he made and every unique set of worlds and environments he drew. He then found a passion for building the most ingenious set of houses, vehicles and communities, for he was subconsciously creating ideas with his drawings. In fact, all he ever asked for were sets of Legos, paper, and pencils. He would spend a couple of minutes reading the wordless instructions and start creating his world and constructing the different set of communities he had imagined.
For him, putting things together and taking them apart is exhilarating. His ability to build a village, a cruiser and a plane with the same set of Legos continues to amaze me. He can create and build anything and everything that he imagines. He can imagine better, and that’s a virtue I admire. He is beginning to understand what he loves to do and why. He is starting to figure out why he loves math and science and the reasoning behind his need of a small pocket notebook where he can draw and write all the ideas that come to mind. He is also beginning to adapt an excellent talent for problem solving and creativity.
My youngest brother, Jose, has always seen his oldest brother drawing and building things. In fact, engineering seems to run in the family, for my now sophomore brother, Juan is in college pursuing civil engineering and was also part of the program that is now benefiting my youngest brother at a much earlier age. My youngest brother Jose is part of the MESA School Program that assists students at several middle and senior high schools to excel in math and science to become competitively eligible for academically rigorous colleges and universities.
Through MESA, both of my brothers have not only won several awards and competitions, but they have been able to see the difference they can make by creating solutions for the most prominent pressing issues in the world. My brother, Jose was able to attend regional competitions that MESA has with other middle schools at UC Irvine since sixth grade. At an early age, he is not only being exposed to the world of engineering but the college environment.
Despite the adversities and challenges my family has faced, I have seen him grow and develop into a strong, determined, and resilient boy. Not only has he recently been awarded and recognized as a “Top Engineer” at Cesar Chavez Middle School in Lynwood, CA, but he has also spent the last three couple of months during Saturday mornings taking Pre-Engineering seminars that exposed him to the field of engineering. He will be entering high school by exploring various engineering pathways in the “Project Lead the Way” Program and I could not be any prouder to be the sister of Jose Cuauhtémoc Ramirez. He carries dignity and pride with everything that he creates and builds. When he gets recognized by the Unified School District this upcoming Thursday and walks the stage in one week to graduate from Cesar Chavez Middle School, I know that I will applaud him and be shedding tears of joy. In fact, I know that I will be doing this for many years to come, and I am ready. He is creating a revolution in his mind and entering spaces where his kind is often not invited or represented. He is bridging the ethnic gaps found in math and science fields, and I know that this is just the beginning of his journey and the change that he wishes to bring back to his community and the world. Every day that I wake up and fight to continue to be strong and create better educational opportunities for children, I remember that I do everything for him, my family, and community. If there is one thing that this brilliant boy has taught me, it is to “persevere”, as he would always say since Kindergarten, “Dulce, all you have to do is persevere.” Oh, the wise words he had at the age of five.
(If you would like to get your child involved in MESA, click here to find your nearest MESA School program: http://mesa.ucop.edu/location-finder/)
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