Meet our Student
When Jesus Gonzalez moved to North County from Oaxaca, Mexico, several years back, he soon found himself without a strong support network. That changed, however, after he got involved with Encuentros Leadership, a group whose mission is to encourage and support boys of Latino descent to succeed in school.
“They were able to get me to know people in different fields and to connect me with professionals in different fields,” the MiraCosta College graduate said. “They helped put me in touch with a variety of different role models.”
Gonzalez was introduced to the organization when he attended an Encuentros Leadership Summer Academy with other North County high school students at Cal State San Marcos while still a student at Vista High School. The program, he said, helped motivate him to attend MiraCosta College in Oceanside.
“I kind of had an idea about college, but this opened my mind,” Gonzalez said. “It showed me what kind of opportunities I had.”
After graduating with a 3.7 GPA on May 17, Gonzalez is heading to UC Berkeley to study either cultural anthropology or Chicano studies. He also was accepted to UCLA, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara.
Gonzalez ultimately plans on earning a law degree and becoming an immigration lawyer.
“I want to help people who are going through some of what I went through and help them understand what their rights are,” he said.
Gonzalez said he came to the United States five years ago with his mother, two sisters and a brother to join their father, who already was living and working in the area. Since enrolling at MiraCosta College, he has taken an active role in a variety of organizations, volunteering with MEChA, the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, Encuentros and human rights committees in Escondido and Oceanside.
Going to MiraCosta College, Gonzalez said, was one of the best decisions he has made. “It is a very welcoming environment. There are a lot of people there who were there to help me and to make me feel comfortable.”
He said he is especially thankful for Encuentros. “It’s one of the things that motivated me. It’s a big part of my success.”
Gonzalez said he is hoping to pay for his education at Berkeley with a combination of work, scholarships and loans.