President Obama recently extolled everyone to seek at least a year of higher education; Jose Ordaz is way ahead of him.
When Jose moved from El Paso to Colorado, he went from an under-performing public high school where little was expected of him to the prestigious Alexander Dawson School a huge culture shock. “It was tough,” he said. “They expect you to do homework here.”
Rather than viewing the differences as challenges, he faced them as opportunities. By sheer determination, Jose quickly caught up with the rigorous curriculum. Balancing academics with extra curricular activities, he joined the school soccer team and before long, became captain bringing his struggling team together to finish the season strong in the state championships. In addition to his school responsibilities, he also works as much as 30 hours a week, earning his own spending money.
For most kids, that might be enough: get good grades, have a good job, do well in sports. Not for Jose. Since last fall, he has volunteered at a local middle school, mentoring a boy who, as Jose put it, was “having a hard time.” The principal of the school was so impressed with the program that she’s asked to expand with more hours and more students from Dawson.
Taking full advantage of his school’s college prep classes, he took it upon himself to apply to no fewer than 12 colleges for next year. “I want to study architecture, civil engineering or maybe criminal justice,” he says. So far he’s been accepted to eight out of the 12. But even more impressive is that he will be the first in his family to attend college. Clearly, Jose isn’t waiting for opportunity to knock.