Students Rising Above Scholar Keeps Up Hard Work During Summer

by Sherry Hu and Christina Arce

SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — No sleeping in or playing video games for Jose Iglesias once college classes end at UC Santa Cruz. The Students Rising Above scholar will have a summer break be filled with work at two internships.

This is the norm for this UC Santa Cruz student.

“I don’t know what summers are,” joked Jose.

That routine started, Jose says, when he failed 6th grade and summer school was mandatory.  Lesson learned.  The following year he became a tutor and after that, he stayed busy with summer programs and internships.  He had a goal: college.

“I don’t know what this trait is of ‘slacking off,’ and so I always try to be persistent and complete what I said I was going to do,” said Jose.

Jose credits his parents for his work ethic. They came from El Salvador in hopes of a better life for their two sons. But the family’s been on the brink of homelessness, even though his father is a painter and his mother works as a cook and house cleaner.

Jose has vivid memories of his mother returning from work everyday.

“She’d come home with the smell of Clorox and things like that. It was super painful for me to see,” he recalled.

He wants to make his parents proud and show that their hard work was worth it.

“I always try to do anything I can in order to show them that what I do is not only for me but also for them, in that I acknowledge what they’ve done for me and that I’m thankful for everything they’ve done,” Jose explained.

One of Jose’s paid internships this summer is at the Marcus Foster Education Institute in Oakland where, not by coincidence, his supervisor, Janasha Higgins, is also a Students Rising Above alum.

“Education and what we’re doing in the workplace is definitely a way in which to help us get to a better place in life,” said Janasha. “I think every SRA student has that drive and motivation.”

“One thing I do want to do is be able to help out those that came from similar situation as I did,” said Jose. “I’m proud. I’m proud to be where I am and to see the person I’ve become.”

When asked about his future, the college student smiles as he tells us, “The future?  Only getting better.”

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