By Raymundo Miranda, AVID Alumnus
Raymundo Miranda was a student speaker at one of this year’s Summer Institutes in San Diego. Below is his speech as prepared. You can also watch his speech!
The term “the American Dream” symbolizes the hopes and aspirations of immigrant families who came to the United States for a better life. With anything that is worthwhile, there is often a price to pay for this dream, and in the case of my family, who immigrated undocumented from Mexico in 1999, that price has been costly.
We settled into life in the U.S. quickly. My sister and I learned English and became top students at school, while my parents went to work. My dad worked as a laborer and my mom as a housekeeper, helping us to achieve ownership of our first home in a working class neighborhood in 2006. My parents poured their sweat and love into the house on Ranchero Way.
In seventh grade, I was accepted into the AVID college preparatory program at Doig Intermediate School, and at the same time, we lost our home and were forced to move into an abandoned mobile home in Orange. I was dealing with the loss of our home, a new high school, financial pressures at home, and the desire to fit in and be popular instead of smart. I made some really poor choices with drugs and friends, which resulted in my being suspended from high school and having my transfer revoked. In a matter of two weeks, I lost my school, my friends, and the trust of my family and teachers who had cared about me. If it hadn’t been for my AVID teachers, it could have been worse.
In February of 2010, I found myself at Villa Park High School. I had no friends and felt scared and alone because I often was the only Latino and freshman in many of my honors classes.
AVID was the only continuity in my life. It was AVID that helped me maintain my high grades and be on track with all my classes. This class served as support for me and my struggles in school and was a second home for me. AVID taught me the techniques necessary to be successful in school. I learned how to take Cornell notes and use them as an organizational tool. I also received help from the AVID tutors, taking advantage of this tutoring to ask questions about the classes I was really struggling in. I learned that binder checks help to organize my notes by class and that using an agenda keeps important dates and deadlines readily available. AVID taught me many techniques that helped me during high school and will continue helping me in college.
I worked hard at Villa Park to rebuild the trust of others. During my sophomore and junior years, I earned a 4.0 GPA and took five Advanced Placement® classes. I volunteered numerous hours with my church’s Pathfinders program, joined Future Business Leaders of America, and mentored other students through the Abraham’s Light Foundation and as an AVID tutor. During my junior year, things really seemed to be coming together because I had earned a 4.3 GPA and my dad was working regularly. My mom had found part-time work. In addition, President Obama signed the Deferred Action order, meaning my sister and I would have the opportunity to work legally and earn a driver’s license. Governor Brown signed the California Dream Act, giving me the chance to receive some financial assistance for college. My senior year was looking bright.
Then on July 2, 2012, my dad went to work and never came home because he was involved in a cruel and senseless accident. It caused him to suffer a fatal brain injury. We buried him the day before his thirty-fifth birthday. I felt lost without him. He was my best friend and my inspiration. I never got to say goodbye or tell him how much I loved him. Our lives were torn apart. As an undocumented family, there was no financial safety net, and it looked like my mom would have to give my sister and me up for adoption to survive. We made the decision to stay together as a family. With the help of my AVID teacher from Doig Elementary, I gathered my thoughts and prepared for senior year.
Despite these personal struggles, my American Dream is looking brighter. I will attend UC Irvine this fall, where I will study Aerospace Engineering. As a positive role model for my community, I will make the world a better place. My family has paid a tremendous price for our American Dream, but it is within my grasp, and I know that my dad is proud of me as he watches over me and my American Dream.