The outlier no more

Judges selected seven winners from more than 100 entries in the 2015 Sam and Jackie Wong-Alhambra Source Scholarship. Alhambra high school seniors and recent graduates were asked to write about their heritage and how it had come to shape them. The winners each received a $500 scholarship award, along with the opportunity to have their essays published in Alhambra Source. This week, we feature an essay from Donovan Espinoza, who recently graduated from Alhambra High School. Espinoza wrote about growing up in a majority-minority community, and how it feels to be an "outlier." Espinoza says he'll be attending Rio Hondo College this Fall, and that he plans on transferring to a four-year university to pursue his bachelor's in Administration of Justice. He says he wants to join law enforcement, and one day become a deputy sheriff. 
 
Morelia, Michoacan in Mexico is the city where I was born. Throughout the course of my life I have encountered many people, places, and obstacles. Going from the beautiful land in Mexico, to the rocky roads in El Paso, to the mountains in Denver, to the busy streets in Hollywood, to the desert of Palmdale, to the ravishing beauty and calm of Alhambra, there have been a series of drastic experiences during my lifetime, and they have shown me the perks of being a diverse individual in this world. Diverse majority-minority in Alhambra? What does this exactly mean to me? It all exemplifies one meaning to me: the opportunity of being different and making a change in the world.
 
 

Espinoza reading from his essay at the Alhambra Source book release party | Photo by Albert LuMany times in my life I have thought, dreaded, and cried about the fact that I have been born into this form of lifestyle, where I am an outlier compared to everybody else who breathes, talks, and lives. But ever since I got into high school, it has not mattered to me what people think. It has even developed into one of my better attributes as a person, and has helped me mature into a young adult. This diversity that pertains to me, is the same diversity that will get me into college, into a career, and into a comfortable life. In my eyes I am not a minority at all. 

My ability to speak Spanish fluently has inspired me to embrace my roots and my background. Many times I have run into someone who cannot translate what they are intending to communicate with another person, and I have stepped in and helped out. Simple occasions such as translating, understanding literature—not only in English but in Spanish too—and simply knowing another language seems amazing to me. It has most certainly been both a major advantage and resource in the community of the San Gabriel Valley, and in all the other cities I have lived in.
 
The most interesting experience in my life was playing football in high school. The reason being that when I stepped onto the field, it was just my team against another—no ethnicities, no minorities, or majorities, no restrictions based on backgrounds. Everybody had a helmet on and it was a matter of strength, integrity, endurance, and perseverance. In the same manner, thus far, my life has not been greatly determined by my Latino background, but by my work ethic. 

Espinoza on the field

I think it is safe to say that I am living the best of both worlds because I would not go back in time to change the course of my life. Being a minority in this world of varying ethnicities has taught me that the point in life is to make the most of what is given and earned. There are many opportunities I wish I had, but I will one day look back on this wish and compare it to where I am then, and I will scoff in prosperity and success because of the adversity I have overcome regardless of my ethnic roots.
 

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