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Behind My Work

I grew up in Chicago. My dad is Italian, and my mom is first-generation Mexican. I’m MexItalian I like to say. I spent my high school years in Phoenix. Jumping back and forth between Chicago and El Paso, where the rest of my family was. Growing up, I always had trouble in school. Drowning by the number of students in a public school classroom, I quickly and quietly fell behind. Once high school came along, I would be thought of by most as a lost cause, a statistic, a troubled student. After being diagnosed with ADHD, I transferred to a private school, New Way Academy, my junior year, I was discouraged, defeated, and distant. I had given up on everything I had dreamt about as a little boy, and if there was anywhere I wanted to be, it surely wasn't a classroom. But the culture and community of that school prevailed, and so did my outlook. There I felt what it feels like to find my passion, to learn to learn, to grow, and to persevere. I found peace in public service. I learned how to be patient, and how to think creatively. Most of all, I fell in love with the story, the why of how things come to be, and the emotion behind it all. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, but I knew I was going to do something meaningful. I viewed my school experience as a second chance, and I made a promise to the world that I wasn't going to take it for granted. I never thought I'd stand there that day, cap and gown, at my own graduation. I spent five years in high school. It wasn’t always easy saying that, but I learned it’s better to tell a story that can inspire than to keep one to yourself for your own pride. I entered high school as a young kid mad at the world, scared of the future, and yearning to be someone other than myself. I left high school as a young adult, in awe of the world, empowered by role models, and yearning to find the answers to what happened here. Towards the end of high school, I had straight A’s, presided over the math club, won awards like the most improved student of the year, and most importantly, if there was anywhere I wanted to be, it was now a classroom, with conviction. All of this progress was put to the test once more through a long battle that I could not name. It was then, in my early twenties that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This battle, compounded by my early troubles in school, are now cemented as some of my most formative moments. I got lucky, and I got out from under, and that's never lost on me. The person I am today wouldn't be here without the power of patience, emotion, and creativity, and every aspect of my work still reflects that today. I’ll never forget the feeling of being discouraged, defeated, and distant. But because nobody gave up on me, I owe it to them to never give up again. My grandparents came here to give me a better life, and my biggest role models showed me patience. I don't know what my existence means, but the best I can do is reflect that. I'm going to create opportunities, I'm going to be patient, and I'm going to love the story, wherever it leads. Above all, I am going to do everything I can to leave the world just a little bit better than how I found it, I promise. 

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