Student Voices: A Step Closer to Achieving My Goal and Finding My Motivation

By Mario Castellanos

My name is Mario Castellanos and I am an 11th grader at Lighthouse Community Charter. I like to write down whatever pops into my head. In my free time I like to sit down and watch Netflix, and I am curious about many things like archeology and historical events. I’m interested in doing law enforcement in the near future as my career.

Two Schools, Two Worlds

In the past five years I’ve gone to three different schools. When I first moved into my new school Lighthouse Community Charter it took some time to get used to. At my old school they said we were all a family, but I was treated as if I wasn’t even part of the family. I felt like I was just an outsider that was temporarily there.

At my new school they say that we are a community and we should respect each other. Everyone in the community is different, everyone acknowledges each other. I’m more open here. At the other school, the classes were easy. Here, there are high expectations. With these new challenges, it makes things a bit harder for me, but the school staff also supports me to pursue my dreams.

College, College, College

In this new school all the teachers talk about is “college college college.” They never stop and they want us to be ready for it and they think we all want to go to college. When I first got here I didn’t know how the school worked. I thought if I turned in all of my work, I would be done. But there was more to it.

I started struggling with my classes because it was hard, but at the same time I was not interested in what they were teaching us. I wanted to learn history. The start of the world war, Napoleon, the American Revolution. At my old school, my history teacher taught me a lot. My grades went up, up, up, all As. When I was in that class I felt more alive, like I could get something from it. I wanted to learn archeology. If there’s a tunnel, I’ll go check it out. All I need is a flashlight and something to drink. I’m very creative. If you give me supplies, I will make something with it. I’m interested in the Rubix cube: how was it made? Why was it made? Who made it?

When class is over they give us homework of what we covered in class and I don’t want to do homework when I’m home. I want to forget about school for the day, but doing homework reminds me of school. I just want to be alone and relax and enjoy the time I have left for the day before I have to repeat the same process the next day over and over again until the weekend, when I can finally get some rest.

Getting to the Other Side

For the past two years I felt like school was making most of my life harder. I felt like school should be about what I wanted to learn but instead I felt forced to take classes of the school’s choosing. I didn’t have that kind of motivation for what they were teaching in class. But now that I’ve found my way, the tables have turned.

I’ve finally found my goal: to become an officer of the law. I want to be out there, I’m detailed, I see things other people don’t see, and I’m a helpful person. Since last year I’ve been thinking: after I’m done with high school, what will I study? What is my career going to be? What will I do after college? My mom told me I can’t join the army. I said, “how about a cop?” My mom said, “it’s a risk but I’ll let you do it.” My plan is to be a cop, and later an investigator. Now I feel I need to go to college. Now it’s about me wanting to go to college.

When I had my meeting with my parents, the principal, and teachers, I told them about my interest in law enforcement. The principal and teachers told me to ask another student about a program called the San Leandro Police Explorers program. A few weeks later I joined the program. In this program they teach you the lifestyle of a cop, what a cop does on a daily basis, and you get to feel how a cop learns and trains. You learn how they have their own little community.

Now that I have this dream, I don’t feel the burden anymore. I feel I’m finally doing something useful. In order to get to where I want to be, I have to get through school and get everything done. Once I graduate, it’s accomplished. I will either go to the police academy for two or four years or go to college and study there for four years. Now every time I go to class, do homework, or take a test, I know I am one step closer to achieving my goal.

What do you think?

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