18 and at the White House - NCAN Students at Beating the Odds

August 8, 2016

Paula Acevedo, Graduate Policy Assistant

On July 19, 2016, two students from CollegeCommunityCareer in Houston, Texas, represented NCAN at the First Lady’s “Beating the Odds” Summit. You can read about their experience at the summit below. You can also read more about them and all the other students who were nominated. 

Thomas Perez

”It [the Beating the Odds summit] was amazing. I couldn't stop smiling. What an experience. I can’t count how many times I said, "THIS IS SO COOL." Being able to attend, gave me the confidence to feel like I will be able to accomplish so many things, just by stepping foot in the White House."

“I enjoyed how calm the FLOTUS was. How relaxed she was. She's like us. It's different when someone talks and pretends to know what we went through. She grew up fighting like us. I loved the fact that she put herself in our shoes. She told us that everything was possible. When she was our age, she was told she was aiming too high, and now look at her."

On touring Washington, D.C.:

"My favorite part was the tour. The walking was so worth it. Seeing all the monuments when it was getting dark. It was beautiful. It was also amazing to be able to spend quality time with the woman [Kathy] who helped me countless times. It was so nice to have my hard work get noticed. If you fight for what you want, good things will come your way." 

His advice to fellow students:

“I want to tell other students to keep looking forward to life. Keep aiming high. You might not see it now, you might not see it for a while, but you have to have a positive attitude. Keep doing the right things and don't fall into the wrong crowd. Do things to better yourself. Focus on the right things. Help yourself. Always try to better yourself in any kind of way.”

Victor Rodriguez

‘It [Beating the Odds] was amazing. I felt very lucky and fortunate to be able to go. The White House was beautiful.  At the end, when Michelle Obama said she loved everyone, I felt it. The informational panels, these tips and tricks, they were potent. I was glad they were able to share that information. It was crazy hearing from people who had gone through the same thing, especially Michelle Obama."

”I wish everyone was able to go. Being 18 and in the White House? It's crazy."

His advice on beating adversity:

“I want people to know that it's possible to do this. Growing up in a tough situation, there's so much negativity. You can't escape. The world makes it seem like it's so hard to invest in yourself. If I can do it, you can do it." 

"It's important to invest in yourself. It's not going to happen overnight, figuring out what you're here for, what makes you happy. But you'll figure it out and from there you can find out where you fit in life."

”I want to encourage everyone to get a really deep, confident understanding of who they are. It makes it easy to see where you fit in the real scheme of things."

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