I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. If you are familiar with the area, you know it's a far cry from its north suburb counterparts. The south suburbs are the majority working class, diverse, decaying side of the city. An array of abandoned and run-down mid-century shopping centers, factories, and neighborhoods. 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 came to New Way Academy in my junior year, 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 indeed wasn't a classroom. But the culture and community of New Way prevailed, and so did my outlook. Here I felt what it feels like to find my passion, to learn to learn, to grow, and preserve. I never thought I'd stand there that day, cap and gown, at my own graduation. You see, 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. During my transition and 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. As I thought about the problems I faced in school, I thought it was the teaching approach. It was in part, but as I dug deeper, I realized those problems also ran much deeper. I asked questions, and I tried to start to peel back the layers of how my school experience came to be this way. Each layer bigger, more connected, embedded, and even institutionalized with the ways in which we organize society. I realized that these problems were not unique to me, they were unique to humanity, they are social problems, problems that exist because of society itself. Problems so big, so complex, we are entangled with them, and they are nearly impossible to solve without understanding the history of civilization, society, and systemic institutions that drive the development of our species. I realized over time, that if I want to make any sort of progress, real progress, I will need to research, develop, and advocate for human development with a vision for a socially designed human empowered world. This isn't for me, this is for the generations that come beyond my time. 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 make sure nobody gives up on them. I am going to do everything I can to leave the world just a little bit better than how I found it, I promise.