“This all traces back to my days as a student at East Career and Technical Academy.”
Looking back, the struggles I faced back in high school and college are now miniscule compared to what I’m now facing day to day. This all traces back to my days as a student at East Career and Technical Academy. Other than “trying” to do homework, and spending my days after school preparing for ProStart competition, I did not have much of a social life back then. If anything, procrastination took over. From homework, to projects, even with ProStart, I did nothing but procrastinate.
It was only senior year where things took a turn. I ended my run at competing in ProStart, and solely focused on graduating with enough credits. That first semester, I finished with straight A’s, my first and only time in my high school years.
“… I knew I needed to finish out strong.”
With only a few months left of high school, I knew I needed to finish out strong. I had just gotten my acceptance letter to Johnson and Wales University in Denver, so I knew I would be able to further continue my path to a career in the Culinary Arts. I even signed up for two internships, just so I could expand my culinary knowledge. In the midst of all of this, the day to present senior projects was a couple of days ahead, and I STILL hadn’t figured out how to present it! Once again, procrastination at its finest – and I ended up staying awake the whole night before to finish my presentation board.
“Even though I was in Denver, I wasn’t alone in beginning my journey there.”
I barely had time to get used to the Denver air when new struggles began to pop up in my life. Somehow, the office in charge of financial aid had trouble with processing some scholarships and grants and if payments weren’t made, I wasn’t going to start classes. So here I am in Denver, in a waiting room by myself, not knowing what to do next. During that time, I was making calls to Vegas with my parents, trying to figure out what to do. At one point, I even thought I was flying home that same day. Fortunately, hours later, the office finally informed me my financial aid went through and I was able to move into my dorm, and begin my life in Denver.
Even though I was in Denver, I wasn’t alone in beginning my journey there. A fellow titan and friend named Jewelee Lopez, from the Class of 2011, was there to help me get used to college life. From getting all the essentials, to living independently, and knowing my way around the city, she was always there to make sure I wasn’t struggling alone.
“… nothing can stop you from fulfilling your dreams.”
If it weren’t for her, I might’ve not survived my first year there. Without Jewelee, I wouldn’t have the courage and confidence to have the friends that I now have there. Because of those friends, those 2 years obtaining that Culinary Arts degree will forever be cherished.
By the time I finished college, I wasn’t even aware that I graduated with Cum Laude attached to my degree. It was only until the day of graduation, that my parents pointed it out, WHILE I was walking into the venue. That only proves that when you have friends to help cope with your struggles, nothing can stop you from fulfilling your dreams.
“… 6 years later…”
So here I am now, six years later, back in Las Vegas. If only I could say life is great, and struggle-free. SPOILER ALERT. . .IT ISN’T!!! Yes, I could say life is great; I have a good-paying job, and I’m able to go out with friends, but behind all that, lies a life full of struggles. Yes, I may have had scholarships and grants to pay for college, but I still had to apply for financial aid loans to cover the rest of my tuition. In addition to the student loans, I had to apply for credit cards, just so I could survive in Denver. It wasn’t a smart decision, but at that time, I felt I had to, and all that money for college would’ve been wasted. To this day, a good amount of my paycheck goes to paying those debts back. Luckily, I still have a manageable amount left to pay for other expenses. I’m not afraid to say I still live with my parents, but combined with being part of Filipino culture, it’s the most cost-efficient thing to do.
Yes, the struggle is still real to this day, and I doubt it will ever go away, but there’s always a silver lining through all of this. Just recently, I was able to pay off my car, and I’ve already paid off almost half of my student loans.
On a side note, over 2 years ago, the hotel I work at (Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas), held a contest to rename their colleague dining room. I decided to join the contest because I had a flashback to eating lunch outside the East Tech quad. I wanted to create a play on the word ‘quad’ and replace it with a ‘W-A’ for Waldorf Astoria. My entry won, and each time I go on my lunch break, to this day, I still eat lunch at the “QWAD”!
So here we all are, over ten years after first stepping into the halls of East Tech, still struggling. The struggles will last, but I, and many others will still face them head-on and will push through, no matter what. In spite of those struggles, they are the foundations that helped build the legacy of East Tech. Because of that, the impact it has brought onto every Titan, like myself, forever lives on.