Ricardo Ayala graduates from Roosevelt High School./ Photo by Jessica Perez

As a student who grew up and attended school in Boyle Heights, I can say that success is possible. I will be attending UCLA in the fall, which I attribute to the support of my mom, who encouraged me to pursue a higher educational goal and to take the initiative.

We had problems at home, including a low family income, and I had difficulties in school at an early age. I know that many students have dealt with similar issues, or worse. What is more important is what I have accomplished, despite the barriers.

Last school year I was part of Theodore Roosevelt High School’s marching band. It was a very fun and challenging experience. I learned to play marimba and other instruments. I also was a peer counselor for the college/career center at the school, which provides scholarships and direct help for seniors with college applications and applications for financial aid. In addition, I served as the student body vice president.

In other words, what I have done has yielded positive results, including acceptance into a great university. I have received scholarships that cover almost all of my tuition, and I now have connections with different organizations. I have always been motivated and have made my goals a top priority. If that means no sleep, no fun, etc., I know that the end result will be worth the sacrifice.

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