30 May Judith Quintero Ramirez
This has been edited from an LIA post written in 2015.
My name is Judith Quintero Ramirez, I am 18 years old, and I’m the first in my family to attend college.
I was born on April 24 1997, in Zacatecas, Mexico. By then, my dad had gone the United States with some of his family who was already there. I was only two months old when my mom decided to follow him to the US. I never knew my birthplace, but I have dreams of someday visiting and getting know my family that lives there.
As I was growing up, I found it difficult to make friends that I fit in with. I am familiar with the feeling of being out place; of being an outcast. I was not very smart, I didn’t feel very pretty, and I was a shy and awkward person. Despite this, I always tried to be welcoming to new students in my classes. During school, I struggled to get good grades. College never crossed my mind as I went through middle school. It was something that I just didn’t see myself doing. College seemed too expensive, and we lived paycheck to paycheck. I felt like I did not have the grades to get a scholarship – or at least I did not think I could ever get the grades. However, my teacher for Latinos in Action, Mr. Andrew Busath at Kearns High School, always pushed me. He helped me see my potential. Selling myself short or remaining in my safe space of shyness and awkwardness was not an option for him, so it wasn’t an option for me either.
Even though we lived paycheck to paycheck, we had everything we needed. Then, during my Senior year, my dad lost his job. Since he does not have a high school diploma it was hard to find a job that paid him as well as his previous job. I worried how I was going to pay for college. We needed another car that fit the family comfortably, so either they help me pay for college or we get another car. Even though my LIA class and my teachers were changing my mind about my ability attend college, the reality seemed very different.
I didn’t always want to be a teacher. For the longest time, I wanted to become a police officer. But when my LIA class started tutoring the younger kids at the elementary school, I felt like teaching was the right path for me. These little ones hold the future in their hands, and I wanted to help them reach their potential.
Mr. Busath was excited and surprised when I told him I wanted to be a teacher. He continued to encourage me on that path, and in March 2015 Mr. Busath emailed me an application for the Diversity Teaching Recruitment Scholarship. Every day that I saw him, he asked if I had finished writing my personal statement. I went through a lot of drafts and he helped me every step of the way. I would go home and add more things to it, or as Mr. Busath said, “More carne and salsa.” Finally, I submitted my final personal statement and documents for the scholarship. Every day I waited seemed like an eternity. After a few weeks I had almost given up hope. My dad was still looking for a job at this time. I was stressed and I felt like my college dreams were disappearing because without a scholarship, I couldn’t afford to go.
Mr. Busath knew before I did. He didn’t really say much to me for a week. He knew I had gotten the scholarship but they had made arrangements for my counselor and Catherine Schoeck from Granite School District to come and announce it in my Latinos in Action class. The class was expecting to hear a guest speaker talk. Then, when Catherine arrived, she talked about how they were proud to announce the winner of the Diversity Teaching Recruitment Scholarship. It was if time had slowed down. When they called my name I was surprised and grateful and excited and relieved all at the same time. I was going to college! I was going to be a teacher! To this day I am so grateful to Mr. Busath. He is the teacher who takes the time to get to know his students and push them to reach their potential.
Latinos In Action is more than just an elective class to me. It was a stepping stone to finally find who I really was. It was a way for me to reach for my dreams. There’s a saying I’ve heard that says, ‘not all heroes wear capes’. I believe that teachers are true heroes. I know my teachers have made a difference in my life. They are my heroes, and now it’s my turn.
I officially accepted the scholarship at a banquet where another incredible opportunity presented itself to me. Catherine Schoeck from Granite School District offered me job tutoring in the AVID program. Now I can start practicing my teaching skills right away! I am a first generation student, and although I’ve had lots of help, college was something my parents couldn’t tell me about. Now, I can find the answers to the questions I had and share them with others just like me. I’m living proof that it’s possible!