In their own words Star Student

With the Help of Copper Mountain College CalWORKs, Manuel Jaramillo is rising again for Lazarus

Copper Mountain College CalWORKs Program

I am a 34 year old single father raising my four- year old son, Lazarus, who I adore and love with all of my heart.

I am currently a student in my fifth semester at Copper Mountain College, majoring in Fire Technology. I am a senator for our student government and a student worker.  My goal is to someday fight forest fires, and be a good role model and father figure for my son.

My first semester was the hardest for me. I was in a new area trying a new way of life, very self-conscious, insecure of my physical appearance, and learning that I did not know how to read and write at a college level. I was absolutely terrified. During mid-terms, my father passed away; it was his time. He left this world knowing his son was doing a lot better. I don’t know how I made it to my second semester, but It was a lot easier for me. My third semester I received custody of my son Lazarus, who was 2 at the time. This changed me forever. I spent almost all my teenage years in juvenile hall and almost all my twenties in prison. I glorified being a villain for far too long. I knew that I did not want this for my son.

My little boy will never be locked away like some animal. He will not be a racist, territorial, and mad at the world. I don’t want his little eyes to see some of things I’ve seen, nor do I want his little heart to be broken, like mine has. He is not going to grow up a gang member and a drug addict like me. He doesn’t know me like that and he never will. I gave up all I knew, all I was programmed to be, and changed for my son. Like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, I changed.

It has not been easy for me, I’m well aware of the horrible places and situations I put myself In and It haunts me sometimes. Thanks to CalWORKs and EOPS I’ve met good people with similar backgrounds to mine. My counselors Vicky and Krystal make this campus a more comfortable place for me to better myself. The assistance they provide with books transportation vouchers and school supplies really help me. They are always there when I need help with something, or have a question. They are very encouraging to me, and I can’t thank them enough. My journey on this campus has been an adventure. Some days I feel misunderstood and get a little discouraged, but I know I’m not alone. I want a better life for my son and I’m giving him that. It’s been hard for me, but I have help and encouragement and my son Lazarus is worth turning my world upside down for.

Two years ago I was my own worst enemy, today I’m my best friend and two years from now I’ll be my hero.

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