LUCHA™ student Eduardo Gonzalez, valedictorian of the class of 2011, Donna High School, Donna, Texas
LUCHA student Eduardo Gonzalez earns high school valedictorian title
6/30/2011Within a class of 681 students, Eduardo Gonzalez of Donna High School graduated at the very top of his class as valedictorian. What makes this achievement even more impressive is the fact that just 5 years earlier Eduardo was living in a different culture and speaking a different language with his family in Monterrey, Mexico.
With the help of LUCHA™, a program of CIE's K-16 Education Center, Eduardo was able to make an easy transition to U.S. schools by being properly placed in the Donna Independent School District. Because of the careful work of LUCHA™'s staff, Eduardo was able to continue his studies without having to unnecessarily re-take classes or mistakenly be placed in classes that were too advanced. Eduardo excelled in school, became high school valedictorian, and earned a full college scholarship from the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship Program.
Congratulations on being valedictorian! Was earning that honor a goal of yours?
Eduardo Gonzalez: “Yes. When I first came to the United States, I came in during my 8th grade year. I tried really hard in my studies and came in 23rd in my class. When I entered Donna High School, my goal was to be at the top of my class. In 9th grade I reached that goal and maintained it throughout high school. My senior GPA was 100.7.”
Where are you from originally?
“I was born in Brownsville, Texas. My family and I moved to Monterrey, Mexico, when I was still a baby. We stayed in Mexico until I was 13. That’s when we moved back to Texas – to Donna.”
What was that transition like?
“The transition to life in the United States had a lot of obstacles, mainly due to the language barrier. It was a new culture to get used to, new surroundings. I didn’t have any friends either.“
How did you learn about LUCHA™?
“When I started school in the 8th grade, I was placed into ESL (English as a Second Language) classes; but because I had some knowledge of English, I was moved to regular classes in 3 months. My teachers were really supportive and knew I needed help, so they got me enrolled in LUCHA™ classes. In addition to my regular classes, I had to do activities for LUCHA™. I was given a binder and, for every subject that I had in English, I was provided translations of the course work in Spanish. This helped my teachers measure my comprehension levels and place me correctly within the system.
LUCHA™ was a great resource for me. I needed guidance, and LUCHA™ and my teachers really helped. I also got to know the other LUCHA™ students. We became very close, almost like a family. We all graduated together this month.”
What is the single greatest assistance you received from LUCHA™?
“I got the confidence to put myself out there – to be active at school and to be active in clubs and organizations. LUCHA™ gave me the confidence and the help to pursue what I wanted to pursue in school and in the United States.“
What are your plans for the future?
“I will be studying at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. I plan on studying international politics. I’m attending school with a full scholarship from the Gates Millennium Scholars, funded by a Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The scholarship pays for everything from undergraduate through doctoral program. I want to go all the way with my education and earn my doctorate. After school, I want to work in the government. Right now, I am working in McAllen, Texas as an intern for the U.S. Southern District Court of Texas."
What would you say to any students transferring to a U.S. school from Mexico regarding LUCHA™?
“To not be afraid, and to set goals and never lose sight of them, and don’t give up. If you believe in your goals, you can achieve them. Anything is possible as long as you have a passion for it and don't give up.”