Meet Cesar

I’ve never met anybody who’s judged me.

Grades

“I’ve never met anybody who’s judged me.”

When I was a junior, I was expelled.

Grades

“When I was a junior, I was expelled.”

I didn't know what I wanted to do.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I didn't know what I wanted to do.”

I don’t really put myself out there a lot.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I don’t really put myself out there a lot.”

I’m proud to say that I’m doing very well.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I’m very proud to say that I’m doing very well.”

I went to school for practically nothing.

Cost

“I went to school for practically nothing.”

Money is out there to help you—just look.

Cost

“Money is out there to help you—just look.”

It was stressful but rewarding in the end.

Cost

“It was stressful but rewarding in the end.”

I wanted to be a teacher.

Cost

“I wanted to be a teacher.”

I just assumed I wasn’t going to go.

Cost

“I just assumed I wasn’t going to go.”

It hits you at once.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“It hits you at once.”

I wasn’t sure what to do.

Cost

“I wasn’t sure what to do.”

Everything was in fine print.

Cost

“Everything was in fine print.”

I was a quiet freshman but now I'm outgoing.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I was a quiet freshman but now I'm outgoing.”

I had to deal with a lot all at once.

Responsibilities

“I had to deal with a lot all at once.”

I stayed close to home so my parents could visit.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I stayed close to home so my parents could visit.”

It pretty much gave me a full ride.

Cost

“It pretty much gave me a full ride.”

People are willing to help if you ask them.

Cost

“People are willing to help if you ask them.”

I was intimidated since I was undocumented.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I was intimidated since I was undocumented.”

My father did not want to help me.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“My father did not want to help me.”

I have a good chance of becoming more stable.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I have a good chance of becoming more stable.”

Leaving the reservation is a huge step.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“Leaving the reservation is a huge step.”

Meet Cesar

 

When I was a junior, I was expelled.
Cesar had a comeback after being expelled junior year.
When I was a junior, I was expelled. (00:55)
Cesar had a comeback after being expelled junior year.
When I was a junior, I was expelled.
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Snapshot

Year in college
Junior
Major
Finance
Current job
Owns a construction business
College path
Transferred from a two-year college to a four-year university
Published yearly in-state tuition and fees
$8,690
Financial aid received
State academic scholarship, Federal Pell Grant
High school GPA
2.3
Two things he can't live without
Latin dance and music
Cesar, a self-described troublemaker in high school, was expelled in his junior year.
His obstacle 

In high school, Cesar “never did a whole lot more than [he] had to.” He made Cs, and though his mother wanted him to attend college, he wasn't motivated to change his behavior or improve his grades. “I was always on the edge,” he says.

But one day he went too far. During his junior year, Cesar was expelled. He left school and got a job in construction. It was definitely a wake-up call. “I was seeing old men working [the same job] and I said, ‘No way, I can't be doing this for a long time.’”

How he overcame it 

Cesar set a goal: Graduate high school and go to college. He enrolled in an alternative high school that better suited his learning style. He liked that his new school gave students more individual responsibility and personal freedom. “You could take a class for two hours or the whole day if you wanted to. That helped me get back on track.”

Cesar graduated, but still faced two major obstacles. He had never taken a college admission test, and he wasn’t sure how to pay for college without getting into debt. To solve the problem, he decided to attend a local community college where tuition was lower and an admission test was not required.

He applied for financial aid and scholarships, but had to pay for the first two semesters on his own. Eventually, he won an academic scholarship and “I’ve had a scholarship ever since,” he says. “It covers all of my tuition.” There’s even money for books.

Life at college 

After earning his associate degree in business, Cesar transferred to a four-year public university in his home state. He divides his time between running his construction business and attending class. He dreams of one day owning a business that enables him to “produce enough income to relax and not have to worry as much.”

His advice to students in his shoes: “You've got to think about yourself 10 years from now and say, ‘How am I going to get there?’ Of course, education is essential.”

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