Student Stories: Temple
Student Stories: Eddie
Eddie has worked hard. By age 8, he was changing his infant brother’s diaper. Eddie’s mom tirelessly worked two jobs while putting herself through college. In those early years, Eddie’s father was incarcerated — causing Eddie to take on some of the household responsibilities.
Though Eddie remembers the stress of his childhood, his mother and grandmother’s help and faith in God motivated him to maintain A’s and B’s at multiple schools in North Philadelphia. The local high school in his neighborhood had a “bad reputation and my mom did whatever it took” to get Eddie into a better high school. In fact, Eddie remembers his former schools as “harsh… sometimes teachers didn’t care.” That’s why, as Eddie entered 9th grade, his hardworking mother insisted that Eddie attend a high school that would both challenge and encourage him in his faith and to pursue academics at a high
Eddie’s mom found Jubilee member school, The City School.
“I was nervous.” Having moved many times, Eddie feared making new friends again. What seemed like another challenging transition, would become a significant shift in Eddie’s story. “The teachers welcomed me and shook my hand.” This simple gesture was rare at his former schools. “At The City School, when I went through a hard time in 10th grade, two teachers, Mr. Sorge and Ms. Clemens, were concerned for me. Friends would comfort me and help me realize that I can’t push people away and that they cared.” In the public school, “if you’re down they will just look at you” and not stop to help. Even older students at The City School watched out for him when he was a
freshman. “We were like brothers and sisters.”
Eddie’s dad came home while Eddie was in middle school. Eddie fondly shared his memory of helping his dad rebuild his “birth home,” the home Eddie’s dad owned. Eddie loved to build and create with his dad. That memory and his mother and grandmother’s influence inspired Eddie to be become an engineer.
When teachers at The City School learned of Eddie’s dreams, they encouraged him to “write a plan” for his future.
That written plan is taking shape today. Currently enrolled at Penn State University, he majors in Aerospace Engineering. Eddie, on a scholarship with ROTC, plans to complete college, pursue a master’s degree, and become a pilot, and perhaps serve as an aerospace engineer. Thanks be to God for the influence of his family, The City School, and the help of Jubilee donors for investing in his future — the fruit of which is already evident.
Student Stories: Brian
When you first meet 19-year-old Brian Vazquez, he greets you with a strong handshake. He’s a tall, lean, clean-cut typical college student. His story, however, is filled with hardship,overcoming adversity, and hard-work.
At age seven, he moved with his family from Puerto Rico to Kensington—a troubled neighborhood of Philadelphia. His father worked as a forklift operator; his mother raised and cared for him and his three brothers.
Over the years, Brian was in and out of numerous schools. By 7th grade, along with the challenge of learning English, he was overweight and was subjected to verbal and physical bullying. His self-esteem plummeted, he had poor grades, and he was placed on academic probation. Anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder plagued him.
The turning point came the following summer. God led Brian’s parents to International Christian High School, and—with a Jubilee scholarship—Brian had a spot in a school where he could learn. He remembers that first day. “My mother almost had to push me out of the car due to my intense anxiety.” Despite his fears, he was able to make friends easily. And for the first time in Philadelphia, Brian felt safe at school.
Challenges remained, however. Because Brian’s writing was incoherent, his English teacher encouraged him to work hard to keep up with his classmates. “I desperately wanted to stay at International,” Brian shared. Over the next four years, he worked harder than ever before, and he succeeded. He was scheduled to graduate as valedictorian. But, his family owed the school $3,000 in tuition, which meant that he was unable to receive his diploma.
International allowed him to attend graduation, to celebrate with his friends, and to give his valedictorian speech, which he delivered with joy. And by summer’s end, Brian had saved $1,000 from his job; his father and other family members had raised the balance due, and Brian received his diploma. The story doesn’t end here.
Brian received one of only two Comcast college scholarships, which included an invitation to meet Mayor Michael Nutter. Then, as a LaSalle University sophomore, Brian received a full academic scholarship from the University’s Academic Discovery program. He has been recognized on both 6ABC and Philly.com for his academic success; he works part-time as a bilingual translator; and he volunteers as a writer for the magazine Motivos (160,000 subscribers). In Brian’s words, “all of my efforts are for God’s glory and not my own, and my success is because of God’s faithfulness.”