Stereotypes do not Define Me

#108

Stereotypes do not define me

As an adolescent male of Latino descent, I have faced a lot of prejudice that aims to cripple me and deprive me of opportunities. I am confronted by the challenges of being stereotyped as uneducated, violent, and lazy. Statistically, my ethnicity predicts that I am more likely to be incarcerated and not pursue higher education after high school. However, I refuse to be just another number - I want to prove stereotypes wrong.

Throughout middle school, I was a victim of racial slurs from my peers and misguided beliefs that I could never achieve anything because of my race. My father had dropped out of school in the sixth grade to support his family in their hometown of Sibilia, Guatemala. Once he immigrated to the United States and started a family with my mother, he was forced to work seventy to eighty-hour weeks for menial pay at a factory because of his lack of education. I felt the same fate would be brought upon me, simply because of the color of my skin. It was not until I acquired a passion for learning that I realized how much others who had faced the same problems as me were able to achieve.

A mentor of mine and "Champion" would be a strong woman who defied odds. In a time when a Latina woman graduating high school was a sort of taboo, she was able to deviate from this belief and receive her diploma. At first glance, this woman does not seem like much: she is 5' l" with dark hair that sits just past her shoulders and a light brown complexion. She looks at you with brown eyes that have seen struggle but persevered. This woman attended West Tech High School in the late 1970s. Throughout high school, she had to work a minimum-wage job to assist her parents in paying bills. Stereotypes expected her to get pregnant and drop out; however, despite what most believed possible, she graduated in 1981.To most, this woman is addressed as Juanita; I am proud to say I call her mom.

 My parents have always pushed me to succeed. They have provided me with the financial, emotional, and material support to keep going, graduate high school, and pursue higher education. I would not have the determination I do now if it were not for my parents. They constantly remind me of the struggles they have faced in hope that I pursue a better life and achieve more than they could.

I believe the best way to overcome racism and prejudice is through education. Instilling values of cultural competence and respect has always been something I have worked towards. As president of my school's Multicultural Club and Anti-Bullying Committee, I aim to show my peers through exposure and education that diversity is a beautiful thing. Without diversity, there are no new ideas, no room for growth, and no path to improvement. When people of different ethnicities, genders, cultures, and backgrounds come together, amazing things are possible.

In college, I hope to receive my MBA specializing in either Health care or Sports Management. I feel a skill set in marketing, finance, and accounting would allow me to thrive in the workforce after college. I hope to remain an involved student during my college career by volunteering in organizations, diversity and enrichment clubs, and I want to compete in intramural sports.

Philanthropy humbles me. It gives me a sense of appreciation for all that I have, and everything others have done for me. Volunteering is all about empathy and human compassion. In college, I hope to continue the tradition set by my older sister, by being actively involved with the American Red Cross Club. I plan to participate in clubs that celebrate diversity and culture. I would like to participate in groups such as the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) or Men With Purpose (MWP). MWP is an outreach program which pairs collegiate students with young minority males in hope to mentor and guide them.

After college, I hope to be able to use the skills and experiences I acquired to give back to my community. Depending on whether I specialized in Health Care or Sports Management, I hope to be working for either the Cleveland Clinic or the Cleveland Browns. Through either employer, I would be able to utilize my quick wit, articulation abilities, and acquired knowledge to work in public relations; this would allow me to strategically communicate between the organizations and the public.

My parents are my champions. They showed me that even as a Latino teenage male, I am able to succeed in life. I now know that I am capable and can persevere through any obstacles life throws at me. I hope to one day do the same as they have, and be someone's champion.

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