Jose Avalos is spending his summer giving back to the community as an intern at Aurora Community Connection, which serves the community through a variety of programming including tutoring, legal services, and resource sharing. Jose’s schedule is packed – in the mornings, he coaches soccer; during the day, he teaches a science class; and in the afternoon, he tutors students of all ages, focusing on reading and writing. Aurora Community Connection serves a predominantly Latinx population, and as a Latino male, Jose feels it is important to be a role model in his community and to show that big dreams are possible.
Next Step On His Journey – Harvard University
A George Washington High School graduate, Jose is looking forward to his next journey starting this fall – Harvard University. While he is nervous to leave his family, he is also excited to get outside of his comfort zone. Jose faced different social and financial barriers when deciding on college. In his freshman year of high school, he didn’t think college was possible for him at all. That changed when he visited University of Colorado Boulder with a guidance counselor for the first time. Jose saw Latinx representation on a college campus and could picture himself pursuing a higher education as well. He wants to continue this representation while he is enrolled at Harvard University. “I want to take this opportunity to contribute back to my community. Me going to college shows my community that it is possible for them as well,” says Jose when asked why he thinks college is important. Jose also believes that college will connect him to opportunities for a better life, opportunities that he otherwise would not get to experience without a college degree.
Neither of Jose’s parents went to college. His oldest sister graduated from Emily Griffith Technical College with an associate degree and his middle sister is currently studying at University of Colorado Denver. Jose will be the first in his family to move out of state, which both worries and excites him. His family is extremely supportive of his decision and is proud of their son for pursuing his academic dreams.
Financial barriers were an additional challenge for Jose. Fortunately, he received a generous financial aid package from Harvard, which was one of the reasons he chose this university over some of the other ones into which he was accepted. Harvard was also one of the only schools that consistently checked on him throughout his senior year. The financial aid office kept contacting him to make sure everything was ok, and his DSF College Advisor walked him through the financial award package to make sure he understood the commitment. Harvard also connected him with students in Colorado who are also headed to Harvard this year, and encouraged him to find a community that would help with a smooth transition.
Advice for Future High School Seniors
Jose has three pieces of advice for the upcoming Denver Public Schools senior class. Number one is to remember to breathe and take care of yourself. Also remember that senior year and college is a chapter in your life, but not the whole book. It is important to find opportunities that are a good fit for you, but also take advantage of opportunities outside your comfort zone. Related to that, is Jose’s last piece of advice – reach for the stars! “Coming into high school, I didn’t think college was for me,” says Jose. “Until I found my support systems, it was hard for me to envision my future. But remember that you have to keep going and you have to make the best of what you got.”