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From Rocketship to the Stars: How One School Shaped My Journey to College Success

As I am writing this, I’m looking at the envelopes on my desk with the letters that are sure to change my life – my acceptances to UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California for the fall. While I’m not yet sure which one I’ll attend, I am so proud to say that I also was accepted into Boston University (as a Trustee Scholar), UC Davis, UC Irvine, Santa Clara University, George Washington University, CSU Long Beach, and San Jose State University. And furthermore, I won a Webb Scholarship that means I will go to college debt free.

As a first-generation college-bound student, I am blessed to have been accepted into so many amazing schools. The journey to get here wasn’t easy, but I am thankful for the help I’ve gotten along the way. I likely would have been in a different place now if I never attended Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep for elementary school. I attended Rocketship in 2014 up until the fourth grade, and I now have a brother, Juan Gonzalez, who is a current third-grader. 

But let’s start at the beginning. I am a proud daughter of an immigrant mother from Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. Advocacy has been a significant part of my entire life, inspired by the hardworking woman who raised me. As a young girl, I was no stranger to the injustices that people and families who look like me often face. Growing up in East San Jose, I could see how low-income Latinos are often ignored and exploited. But at Rocketship, my teachers weren’t afraid to confront these issues in the classroom. They let us bring our whole selves to school each day and would talk about whatever was on our mind. Because of this, Rocketship became a second home for me. 

My time at Rocketship, to say the least, was a great experience. I would have to say that my favorite part was the morning Launch. As a young girl, I had no shame in dancing wildly in front of my peers to Shakira’s song “Waka Waka”. Not only that, I learned the importance of consistency with my homework and embracing cultural roots through folklorico classes with Ms. Blanca Carbajal. I will never ever forget performing baile folkloricofor the annual Día de los Muertos celebrations at Rocketship Fuerza. These lessons and experiences continue to shape my life, and I am eager to uphold them throughout my future. 

I also learned how to advocate at Rocketship Fuerza, and I carry those lessons with me to this day. Whether it’s joining the Rocketship California Leadership Organizing Committee to fight for a crosswalk on Jackson Ave outside of our school, or interning with San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan and then San Jose City Councilmember Peter Ortiz, or conducting a study on the impact of lead on children in San Jose, I fight for my community.

My blood family and my Rocketship family taught me to use my voice. This led me not just to come back to Rocketship but also to advocate for all the causes I care about at my current school, in my community, and beyond. I am amazed at how a school I no longer attend continues to teach me about unity and determination. I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced Rocketship and look forward to how my connection with my former school and community will continue to flourish, inspiring me to be a person who upholds empathy and grit throughout college and future endeavors. 

Thank you to all the amazing teachers who helped me get here. The work you do is important and it matters. You helped me elevate my voice to advocate for my community and you truly changed the entire trajectory of my life.

Published on June 12, 2024