With the support of CIS, our students stay in school, graduate and go on to bright futures. They all have a story about their journey to who they are today. Alumnus Samuel shares his.
When a person is drowning, they need a lifeguard; when there is wreck, they need an ambulance, and when a child is in school and is struggling, they need Communities In Schools. CIS is a caring adult willing to step into a situation and help.
In my case I was skipping class, not caring about my grades and was ready to drop out of high school and join the workforce in the oil boom of West Texas and make money.
My parents wanted me to stay in school. They both immigrated from Mexico and didn’t have the opportunity to stay in school, so they knew that finishing high school was important. I was a hardheaded know-it-all teenager who wanted to be done with school. My mom went to the high school asking for help, and that is when I was introduced to CIS of the Permian Basin and CIS site coordinator Ramona. Ramona sat us down and talked me into staying in school and getting back on track.
It was that one-on-one relationship that changed my attitude and made me feel that I had someone on my side. Once I stopped missing school my grades improved, and my site coordinator gave me the resources I needed to complete assignments and her time and advice when I needed it. I was able to graduate with my class of 2000 and walk the stage. Ramona was there, and we celebrated together; up to that point it was the highlight of my life and if it were not for CIS I would have dropped out.
CIS helped me complete a college application, apply for scholarships, and invited me to come back to my high school and help other students struggling in high school.
Now almost 20 years later I look back at the impact that CIS has had on my life. That one decision changed the direction of my life. I could have been a high school dropout and would have to list that on every resume or job application for the rest of my life. CIS gave me confidence to believe in myself. I joined the oilfield after college and have grown my career. Having post-secondary education really mattered when it came time for me to move up. I have worked internationally in Mexico, South America, and the Middle East. Today I am a General Manager and have a team of over 70 employees.
I have stayed connected with CIS to give back to the organization that helped me in my moment of need. I volunteer as a speaker and mentor for students, attend fundraising events, and as a member of our Alumni Leadership Network. Our alumni group meets regularly and identifies ways to help CIS affiliates connect with other alumni. There’s a CIS University that provides an online platform for skill building. Also, as a part of the Alumni Leadership Network we are given an opportunity to share our story and inspire more youth.
I have traveled to Washington, D.C., and visited Capitol Hill to meet with senators and congressmen on the importance of their support for school program funding. I have been to our state capitol in Austin, Texas, gave a speech on the capitol steps and met with our state representatives to keep funding for CIS going in order to serve more kids.
CIS put me on the path for my family and I to have a better quality of life. In the oilfields the field workers work long hours, sometimes 12 or more hours per day, and my father has worked those hours his entire adult life, in the sun, the rain, and the snow. Long hours leave little time to attend school or community events or participate with nonprofit organizations. CIS put me on the path to be able to be at my child’s first-grade award ceremonies, to participate actively with my teenage son’s school sport activities and cheer him on, and to have lunch with my wife.