“I’m the first person in my family to attend college. I’m excited to be an inspiration for my younger brothers and sisters.”
For Fredy Javier Rodriguez Diaz, age 22 from Chelsea, earning his high school diploma has not been an easy road. Born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Javier spent his childhood moving between homes of aunts and uncles throughout the country. “When I was seven years old, my mom decided to divorce my father and she moved to the US. I was left with my father and brother, but by age 9, I had moved in with other relatives. I moved again, until I was finally on my own at age 15.” The constant moving, combined with additional family challenges, made attending school regularly difficult. “After attending first grade, I was out of school for three years,” Javier reports.
Javier eventually moved to the US to join his mother at age 19. His first priority upon arriving in Boston was to enroll in school, but finding an institution that would accept him was challenging. “Before I arrived, my mom was looking for schools, but because of my age and language status, she didn’t have any luck. When I came, I had the same experience.” Luckily, Javier stumbled upon a pamphlet for Phoenix in his local church one day, and was thrilled to learn he could enroll.
While improving his English skills was initially challenging, Javier learned at a rapid pace. “I studied on my own, and I watched other people to learn from them.” He remembers his struggles – the word “slope” in geometry was particularly challenging – but quickly grew in his ability to communicate with others. He notes that he’s particularly proud of his success in AP Language and Composition. “I can’t believe I’m able to do that – look at the books I’ve read this year, all in English. I never would have believed that was possible before.”
Next year, Javier plans to attend Salem State University, where he will major in psychology and minor in law. He says, “I’m the first person in my family to attend college. I’m excited to be an inspiration for my younger brothers and sisters. They need me to be their role model.”