Jeronimo Perez Flores, 21

Jeronimo Perez Flores began working at the age of 8 in Guerrero, Mexico, to contribute to his family’s situation. Because of the prohibitive cost of high school in Mexico, Flores dropped out to continue working. At the age of 17, he journeyed through the desert to immigrate to the United States, settling in Richmond, California. He enrolled in San Francisco International High School, where the majority of students are immigrants trying to master English. Flores reminisces that despite his disposition as a persistent person who strives to overcome adversity, adapting to a new language, culture, and lifestyle was one of the hardest things he has ever done. He notes that it took him about two months to start comprehending his classwork and homework, on top of working 40 hours a week to support himself.

Flores has witnessed extensive discrimination and hate towards Mexican immigrants, including loss employment opportunities due to skin color or accented English. He is constantly appalled at the stereotypes and quick judgement that immigrants face, mostly because many who make the journey seek a better life and want to contribute to the economy of the United States. He points out that people with bad intentions come from every ethnicity, country, religion and social status, not from a specific race. Flores recognizes the invaluable necessity of quality education, taught by well prepared teachers. In his highschool of 70, only 12 made it to college, either due to violence, poverty, monetary hurdles, and lack of support. He believes that if teachers were better prepared to teach the future of their country and that if students were better equipped with a strong education, the world would become a better place.

Flores plans to pursue a career in civil engineering in the Bay Area, focused in low-income housing construction. He plans on championing diversity in the workplace and giving his community the same opportunities they gave him. He received many awards during high school, including a Certificate of Achievement, for contributions as a peer tutor in the Refugees Transitions After-School Program.