Mentor inspires student to go further in life

 Christian Moreno discovered a love of learning and volunteering thanks to his mentor, Mariela Rosas.

Christian Moreno discovered a love of learning and volunteering thanks to his mentor, Mariela Rosas.

 “Mijo, un dia quero que seas muy grande.” 

I recall my mother saying those words that someday I would be great when we first immigrated into the United States from Mexico. My mom instructed me to always dream big and to not let anyone bring me down for being an undocumented citizen.

I always kept her advice and wisdom in my mind, which ultimately was the foundation for why I have become so dedicated to helping my community. Ever since I was little, my mother has laid out the principles of being a leader—someone who is committed to his work and is a role model for society.

Leaders have a high impact through their commitment to their work. A committed person is a person who has a lot of patience; and isn’t afraid to wait days, weeks, or even years to pursue his or her goals. 

When I was in the fourth grade, I attended the summer camp program run by Mariela Rosas, which went from the beginning of June until the end of July. Most of the kids in the program were students with low literacy skills and had parents with little to no education. 

In the program, we did daily readings to help us prepare for the following school year. Throughout the program, I was inspired by a mentor who urged me to continue with education because she believed I had a lot of potential. 

Being a role model
This impacted my life, so much in fact, I became a mentor for the same program during my summers in high school. I wanted to help these children prepare for the next grade level, instead of being retained for another school year. These children need role models to help set the pathway for the rest of their lives.

My hope is that my involvement in this program will continue to impact these children for years to come, just as I was impacted as a child. Maybe even one day one of my students will come back to volunteer just as I have. 

Having a positive role model such as Mariela is one of the reasons I have come so far in life. Mariela always set the standards so high for me, so high in fact, I hated her when I first met her. My first impression of her was that she was a crazy old lady who had no idea of what she was talking about. 

She allowed no flaws in my work. She made me erase any messy handwriting, corrected any mistake on my papers and gave me extra homework after I was done with my regular school work.

Building leadership skills
Eventually, I began to build a strong relationship with her. She taught me how important it was to have grit in life. I’ve incorporated all of the wisdom she has taught me in my leadership skills, which have helped me become a role model for my younger sister. 
After I graduate from Walla Walla High School in June, I plan on attending the University of Washington, where I will major in international business with a minor in Latin American studies.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” 

In college, I plan to continue to contribute to my community by providing my leadership to affect the lives of others. Much of my success is owed to Children’s Home Society. 

I hope this program continues to stay around for many years, so that it can help many others like me. What are you doing for others?

Christian Moreno served as the keynote speaker at Walla Walla SweetHearts for Kids luncheon in February. His speech has been edited.