Making a Difference

Cesar comes from a tight-knit, loving family who emigrated from Mexico when he was young to build a better life here in Grand Rapids. His parents are very supportive, even when challenged by language barriers. The second of five children, Cesar started high school with a choice. He could take the path offered by some of his peers—joining a gang, using drugs and general troublemaking. Or he could stay away from the bad influences and focus on his education. Cesar chose the latter, not because it was the easy thing, but because it was the right thing. He said "I saw kids making bad decisions all the time. I decided that I shouldn't let the people I'm with and the environment define me." 

So instead of joining a gang, he joined the Boys and Girls Club, where he was surrounded by positive influences and people who wanted to help him succeed. As a senior at Union High School, Cesar served on the Kids' Food Basket Student Council, and got involved in numerous other local organizations like Rotary Interact, and the Steil Center Boys and Girls Club, as well as the school Student Council. He was captain of the varsity soccer team for two years and made plans to attend either Grand Valley State University or the University of Michigan. Cesar's dream is to make a difference in his community by leading a non-profit organization. "I don't like to use my past as an excuse. My past has made me who I am" he told us. He sums up his outlook by saying "I'm never going to forget where I came from and I'm going to let other people know that it's possible to do anything through hard work, perserverance, and determination. Change starts with me."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Thanks Cesar, for reminding us what students can achieve when we believe in them!