Through all the programs I have been through as part of Washington Student Leadership, whether La Cima Bilingual Leadership, ¡La Chispa!, Patriot Crew, or leadership class, I arrive at a similar conclusion: sharing in authentic moments reveals the harsh realities of our young lives and it helps us to push through. We realize the profound strength we live out in our stories when we share in a safe community.
One of the reasons I keep coming back to La Cima is that I find clarity at camp. This clarity helps me develop and articulate my personal story. As a student, my teachers often looked at me as very bright and it always felt like they knew I was going to go to college, just like my parents. It wasn't until high school that I learned I was undocumented. I was hurt. I felt as though my entire existence was a lie because my life revolved around a college dream that became astronomically out of reach for me. I grew depressed and I didn't want to keep living, but I didn't tell this to anyone. Not until after I went to La Cima. Taking part in the way of council began the process of building my strength to talk to someone for the first time. Then, with Patriot Crew, I was able to grow closer to my peers than ever before. It was at our Cispus retreat that I realized I finally had to let my friend know what I was feeling. He listened and that was enough. I want to thank him everyday.
I keep working on my skills as a leader as much as I can because I know that I can make a difference in someone's life. Leadership is not simply a title. It’s a way of life that brings fulfillment and passion. I may be young and naïve, and I might not know what’s in store for me, but I found that I just have to believe for myself that I will succeed. Washington Student Leadership did this for me and I hope I can do more for someone else one day. I don't think I could ever find the words to express how grateful I am to the people that have guided, listened and cared for me throughout the past years and this would not be complete if they weren't acknowledged. Thank You Vincent Perez, Juarez, Kim Jansen, Luis Ortega, Ray Corona, Sonia Ramirez, Laura Blackett, Eric Stanczyk, Heath Booth, Meghan Fagerberg, Chris Mckay, Allen Culp, Eduardo Ortiz, James Hester, Rene Alvarez, and Ali Shams.
-Jesus Castellanos is currently a freshman at Trinity College. Jesus is also a Washington High Graduate 2013 (Patriot Crew), La Cima JC, and ¡La Chispa! Facilitator.