I’ve always dreamed about what it would be like to live in a beautiful home behind an all American white picket fence, alongside attentiveneighbors who cared about my wellbeing. However, dreams are just something that we do to fantasize, and try to use to escape our reality.

Having parents who weren’t able to receive a proper education caused both an academic and economical barrier in my life. Coming from the Central Valley means that my parents have access to working in agricultural. However, planting and picking grapes, pistachios, etc only allows them to receive minimum wage, and this limits where my family lives. Rather than living in a safe neighborhood, my family and I live in an area which many consider “the hood or the ghetto”. Little did I know the role that this area would play in my life.

Living in this area meant that my neighborhood was constantly surrounded by neighbors who were affiliated in gangs. These gangsters successfully surrounded my neighborhood in fear in a way that my house will never have the safety of a home. How can you feel safe in a place that has been robbed not once but multiple times? How am I supposed to feel knowing that a stranger went through my personal belongings? How am I supposed to trust that the one laptop that I won through my hard work won’t be stolen while I’m at school? How am I supposed to be safe here? Nonetheless, this seems to be the smallest issue that Iface. It appears that violence has only worsened through the years. In my neighborhood gunshots are common, and drive bys are nothing but background noise while I study for an upcoming AP Statistics or Pre-calc exam. It appears that in my community crimes are spreading and infecting many like a virus.

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Amongs drive byes came the introduction to drugs and alcohol. By the age of 11, I wasused to the smell of weed and Bud light. Not the best things for a 11 year old immediately recognize the smell of. While at my school we had assemblies where mentors told us that drugs were bad, and that we were too smart to start, I was seeing the affects of drugs. I saw how mothers neglected their kids. Imagine being 11-12, and seeing a 3-4 year old run around barefoot in the street. All I could do was tell my mom to buy him sandals.Meanwhile, Father’s would drink beer as if it was water, and throughout the years grow an addiction that would drive them away from the only people that love them. Apparently a can holds more value than one’s own family.

Meanwhile at school, I realized that I was so accustomed to that lifestyle that I myself choose those people as my friends. I surrounded myself with teens who thought weed was cool, and that they would become popular if they smoked it. I was so used to a bad life, that I chose bad friends. Every often they would offer me drugs and I would turn them down without hesitation, because in the back of my head I had the constant reminder that I’m the oldest and I set the example. I’m the first that has to make my family proud, and I can’t allow their hard work to go down the drain.

Eventually, I realized that you don’t need to be smart to know not to start, you need to be mentally mature. That’s when I took matters in my own hands, and began convincing my friends to stop smoking and introduced them to the consequences. I wasn’t able to savethem all, but I did help my best friend. She’s been clean since 8th grade and hasn’t been urged to continue smoking.

This is why when I become Mayor of Delano, my hometown,I will make make my main goal to better neighborhoods like mine. I will crack down on criminals that spread the virus that is crime. I plan on doing this by having a stronger Police force. I also plan on having a stronger community by bringing multiple Neighborhood Watches.

Furthermore, I want to create a Boys and Girls Foundation in which I will have an open, warm and safe home for those that need one. In addition I want to make my own scholarship, just as Teen Ink, and allow those who want to further theireducation, and make a better life for themselves. After serving for my community, I plan on continuing to represent my community and voice the voiceless by making my way up to Sacramento’s Capital and later down the road I hope to be one of the 435 members who represent our nation in the House of Representatives.

I know that to make my dreams become a reality, I have to attend college. I am going to be a first generation to graduate and most importantly the first generation to go to college. I will repay my parents and after receiving a proper education I will rebuild my hometown.

So hey, maybe I didn’t grow up in a gorgeous home, behind that white picket fence, alongside affectionate neighbors, but maybe that was for the best. My experiences have made me mature as an individual and most importantly they have taught me to continue fighting despite any border.

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