San Benito High School senior Rolando Pablo Lorenzo was named as one of four area finalists for the “Every Student Succeeding” award program presented by the Association of California School Administrators.
Lorenzo came to the United States on his own from Guatemala at age 14 to live with his uncle while seeking a brighter educational future, according to San Benito High School District’s announcement of the achievement.
A group of administrators from local school districts recently notified the Lorenzo of his finalist status. Lorenzo and one student each from Monterey, Salinas and Santa Cruz are up for the award.
North County Joint Union School District Superintendent/Principal Jenny Bernosky said students nominated for the award “may have had challenges in their life; things they’ve had to overcome by working really hard.” They “might have had a language issue or struggled academically, but really persevered above and beyond to be an outstanding student.”
San Benito Principal Adrian Ramirez addressed the classroom about the details of the award, and then announced Lorenzo’s name, drawing a standing ovation for the senior.
In the nomination form for the award, Lorenzo is called “an outstanding example of perseverance and hard work.” His 3.69 grade point average could make it appear like academics has always come easy to him, the form noted, “but he has had struggles throughout his high school career and before,” having arrived in San Benito County from Guatemala on his own at age 14.
Not knowing a word of English, he was placed in an English Language Development class offered by the high school’s Migrant Program’s evening summer school program prior to starting ninth grade. To overcome that language barrier, he sought the help of teachers and attended a tutorial to finish his first year of high school with a 3.5 GPA.
While working part time to help his uncle with expenses, Lorenzo has carried a full academic load (taking seven classes some semesters) in addition to attending evening summer school classes.
He has applied to various California State Universities and is looking forward to attending college with the goal of becoming a lawyer.
The San Benito Migrant Education Program staff has provided guidance to Lorenzo throughout high school, including sponsoring his trip to the annual three-day Northern California College Tour during his junior year, which familiarized him with college requirements and the admissions process.
He later was hired as a tutor to help other students in the Migrant Program’s Work Experience Program.