“My parents, siblings and I used to visit family in Mexico all the time… but during one of those visits, my father lost his visa. My mother panicked when she had to travel back to us without my father. She had to decide what to do: either stay in Tucson and find a job, or pack everything and go back to Mexico. I was only 10 years old.

After moving back to Mexico, it was rough. I had to get used to the new language I knew so little of. When my siblings and I had to enroll in high school, it was nearly impossible for us to be able to afford for all 3 of us to attend: in Mexico, high school is the same as paying for college tuition! Eventually, my brother, sister and I came back to the U.S. to stay with relatives and friends to continue to pursue our education.

Once we arrived in Tucson, we heard about Youth On Their Own. YOTO was an enormous help because we never had any money for us to buy what we needed for school! Without the help YOTO has given us, who knows where we would be? We might still be struggling day to day. I came to the U.S. not knowing what to do for my future, but this organization has helped me in discovering what I can do and how to achieve it.

With YOTO, I have received a lot of job training and development skills such as building a resume, how to dress and what to expect in an interview, and how to balance school and work. I am planning to attend the University of Arizona this fall to study engineering. One day, I’d love to build my own house! But for now, I am looking for an apartment for my siblings and myself, so we can live near school and stay together.”

Jose graduated from Ombudsman in the spring of 2017 with a 3.51 GPA and will begin attending the University of Arizona in the fall of 2018. He is the recipient of a Youth On Their Own scholarship to help him continue his studies.

Note: The above text was taken directly from Jose’s scholarship essay.