- 2012 Carolyn Yee High Hopes Scholarship recipient
- University of California, Los Angeles
Growing up in a neighborhood on the border of San Pablo and Richmond, where gunshots are a frequent occurrence, my dad tried to protect me from this reality. He called the gunshots, “fireworks” to make me less scared, and tried to block out their sound with the TV. I was not allowed to go outside other than with family or close friends that my dad had met. My parents helped me to attend Berkeley High so that I could be safe at school and have better opportunities that what a high school in Richmond, where I live, could offer. Most of my friends in Richmond are now pregnant or in gangs. My father, like my mother, an immigrant form El Salvador, never graduated from high school. He made sure that from the time I was little, I had all the books I could possibly read. The sacrifices my family has made, have motivated me, but it’s my inner drive that’s given me the motivation to succeed. What I am seeking is the opportunity to study literature and fulfill not only my family’s dreams but my own dream of learning as much as I can, in an environment that would be challenging, raising my own standards. I want to help other first generation students, and other students who have faced obstacles to education.
“Yesenia is persistent and always finds ways to get the support she needs. She also won’t stop asking till she gets the answers. She knows that this kind of persistence will allow her to achieve her dream of becoming a surgeon.”
Teacher, Berkeley High School