I am lucky to come from the family I come from because they have provided me with opportunities to develop the tools necessary to become a successful person. I am not like many other children who scarcely see their parents; my mother is a stay at home mom because my father has a stable job in which he only works about a nine hour day, as a partial owner of his architectural firm. This combination allows for a secure environment in which I have been able to spend sufficient time with both of my parents. They have taught me how incredibly crucial it is to have a great education, but also the value of extracurricular activities to learn things that cannot be taught in school. The relationship I have with my parents built the foundation for how I live my life.
My parents have always put me in the best atmosphere possible where they know I will be challenged and can grow as an individual. For my first three years of high school my parents were able to put me into a private high school, St. Pius X, where the motto is “Commitment to Excellence.” My school integrated this into everything that takes place whether it was community service or school work. Here I was forced to teach myself the meaning of hard work and motivation. The classes were quite rigorous and it was no easy ride. At times I wanted to give up, but I was taught to persevere, and by working hard I would get through the quarter or semester.
I am very thankful for the school I went to because it was required of each student to serve at least 40 hours of community service. Many people may look at community service as a waste of time because there is no financial benefit in it for you. I was one of those people until I found the project that really changed my opinion. My father who is a philanthropist got me into his program, Rebuilding Together Albuquerque (RTA). RTA is a continuous project in which people go and restore homes of those in need or elderly. This experience taught me to appreciate everything I have because the types of places I worked were the places you hear about but never actually thought they really existed. It also taught me to respect people from all walks of life because even though someone might have a house equivalent to a cardboard box there is still something special about that person that makes them unique from everyone else.
I am on my fourth and final year of high school and I choose to spend this year at Grande Sports Academy in Casa Grande, Arizona. I am all the way out here by myself because of the basic principles I have learned from my parents and school; respect, hard work, motivation and not being a judgmental person. The sole reason for being in Casa Grande is to play for the Real Salt Lake – Arizona Academy soccer team, which is the youth team for the professional team based out of Utah. There are about forty kids who live at the residential academy in dormitories, and I am tested daily because I am surrounded by some of the most talented youth players in the nation and the world. Here, my dreams are in the making because I am put in a situation in which almost every player in this country would kill to be in.
My dreams of becoming a collegiate and professional soccer player are finally in the works because of all the positive and negative experiences I have had that shaped the very person I am today. Even though I would like to play soccer at the highest level possible, I plan on graduating from college with a Biology major, and to pursue a career in biology.
One experience I have that really stands out from all the others is my trip to Costa Rica during the summer of 2009. This trip included flying out to Costa Rica and staying about 100 yards from the warm Atlantic Ocean. This trip was put together for my soccer team Albuquerque United Football Club (AUFC) solely to play some local teams and tan in the sun for a week. What originally was meant to be a vacation became an eye opener for me.
I did not know Costa Rica was a developing country before I landed, I imagined it to be a country full of warm waters and lovely weather. I quickly learned it is much more than that. Driving to our home for the next week we drove past shanty towns and five family members riding on one dirt bike. I was very appalled at what I was seeing and I did not know how to react. I was quick to judge the country, and labeled it ghetto.
Our team volunteered to do some humanitarian aid and help clean up some schools and teach some of their local students about our values in the United States. What I thought were ghetto people were people just like me. Even though they were wearing hand-me-downs and ripped shoes they looked happier than anyone I had ever seen. It was surreal to me because I always imagined people in need as sad and in pain.
When we played a local soccer team we showed up in our rental vans all dirty from the mud roads. We got out of the van in our flashy uniforms and starred in astonishment of the quality of the fields. The grass was higher than your ankles with patches of mud and rocks. Being a pampered American, this did not suit very well with me. I was quick to comment on the terrible state of the fields and incredulously asked how anyone could possibly play on them. When the other team showed up and strapped on their boots started playing like it was the best day of their lives. I was still in shock, but admired their positive spirits.
What I gained from this trip was a paramount level of appreciation for everything I have because like most Americans we just want and want and want. We never take time to actually see what we have because we are too busy complaining about what we do not have. The players in Costa Rica just played soccer because they love to play, they did not play for the expensive shoes or amazing fields. This resonated with me because I try to notice everything I have in life and not take it for granted. I want to get the most out of everything I do because I know there are people around me who dream of the opportunities I have and would do anything for it.