Jose Antonio Tijerino, Contributor, The Huffington Post
“Hey, that’s my story!” my mentee Adan Gonzalez blurted out as I read him some of the preliminary findings from a study the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, myCollegeOptions and the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) conducted called Taking the Pulse of the High School Student in America.
When Adan Gonzalez was a high school student in the rough-and-tumble Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas, TX, he had dreams of going to college, being a boxer and launching a national effort to support disenfranchised youth through education, empowerment and networking. But first he needed to get through high school. Then he needed to apply for college. And for college grants. The easy part, he thought, would be actually going to college.
At one time, Adan shared one bedroom with six others while his father worked long hours as a custodian and mother held odd jobs to help feed the family. Unlike many other students in America there was no internet in his apartment or complex, and too often no electricity. To complete homework requiring online access, he would walk late at night, after sports practices, to a McDonalds or Starbucks and lean up against the building to catch enough of the sporadic Wi-Fi signals to finish his assignments on a borrowed laptop. When he had to research and apply for colleges, he literally hit the streets in search of a signal that didn’t have a password attached to it. College grants were accessed the same way, through this maddening process akin to finding water with a divining rod over a hundred years ago.
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