Isabel's Story

A commencement speech given during 2019 Noche Celebration - By Isabel Rivas

Before KidWorks came into my life, I hated my neighborhood.  Every time I walked out my door I saw chaos and destruction.  From afar, I have seen the face of someone who was dedicated to harm another. Helicopters often roam the sky above, police cars pass by every few hours. I have firsthand experience of a gunshot striking a glass bottle just mere feet away from where I was standing.  What if that bottle had been me?  I hated the uncertainty I felt each time I encountered anyone from my neighborhood. So when a new family was expected to live in the space available in the apartment complex in front of me, the only wish I had was that they would bring children into this place. Little did I know that I was about to encounter a whole load of them. 

The days went by and I saw no furniture come in but rather a whiteboard and tables. My mother handed me a sheet of paper. “Que es esto?” I asked her. She pointed to the front building and said that if I wanted to learn more I should go ask. I didn’t ask, instead I filled out the application and hoped for the best. From that day forward KidWorks Cedar Evergreen has been my second home. 

The hate that I once had for my neighborhood has now turn into immense love. As I continued with KidWorks I was able to meet and interact with people from my community. KidWorks has given me so many opportunities to expand my horizons. I have been able to be part of the after school program, campus crash and the summer programs. The hours I have spent at KidWorks have been gratifying. I was pushed to my limits and encouraged to complete my goals. I also became a bit outspoken, asking questions when I was confused and commenting on subjects that I found interesting. I grew as a person, through trial and error, I became a person with more confidence and decisiveness. I was not the same girl who walked into KCE on the first day.

Today, I think about my future and college is not just a dream but a plan. With my parents’ support, my involvement in groups, and my own questions I have now prepared myself for college. Through my collegiate process I found my passion for environmental science and now plan on majoring in Sustainability Studies at the University of California Riverside. But more importantly I have found my true passion is helping people and after I have completed my higher education in my intended major I wish to come back to Santa Ana  and apply what I have learned. For I wish to go back with even more thoughts and ideas. To become a person to whom many will look and say “She gives us hope.”  I can’t wait to start that journey.  

I would like to take this time and thank KidWorks for everything they have provided me. Special thanks to Ms. Dianna for guiding me these full four years, thank you to all the staff for always welcoming me with open arms, thank you to my family and of course thank you God for giving me the blessing to stand here today. 

People who live outside of Santa Ana often look at Santa Ana students with pitiful eyes. I stand here in front of you to say KidWorks doesn’t give us pity it gives us hope. Hope for the future and hope for life. 

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