I came from one of the neighboring public schools, the same schools that failed my parents, aunts, and uncles before me. I did not put too much pressure on myself concerning my academics, since I told myself, “Just get a C.” That is what I thought my highest ability consisted of. My elementary school was on the news two years in a row because children brought drugs and a gun into the school. When I was 15 years old, I saw my Vice Principal get shot in the hip outside of my classroom as he tried to break up a fight.
I eventually dropped out of high school because I did not want to become another statistic. I immediately enrolled in GED courses. Once I finished, I enrolled in a Medical Assistant program. I obtained my certification as a Medical Assistant even though I was only 16 years old and the youngest student at that school. It was a great accomplishment for me, but I struggled to land a position in the medical field because of my age. As a result, I labored in customer service, waitressing, and sales associate jobs. Despite the severity of my circumstances, I never gave up. Then, hope arrived for me in the form of a college called Esperanza.
Esperanza College has made a significant difference in changing my outlook from hopelessness to fearlessness. Esperanza College will forever hold a special place in my heart. The warmth I felt every time I was on campus was genuine and sincere. My professors were nothing short of amazing and offered me their gift of knowledge. After a few semesters, I became the valedictorian of the December 2019 graduating class and delivered a speech to hundreds of members of my community. I never imagined such an achievement!
My journey has taught me that you must keep believing in yourself and never live up to someone else’s limitations, no matter what the situation looks like. You must keep striving and have faith that one day God will fulfill your hopes and dreams beyond your expectations. You must never give up!
Rita Thorn is currently working at a bilingual school in North Philadelphia and earning her BS in Early Childhood Education at Eastern.