My name is Maria de Jesus Lara Lemus, but growing up in the US my name changed to Maria Lara, no accent, no middle name. As I moved back and forth from Mexico and the US, I saw how education was important. However, being in this first world country, I didn’t receive the best education: not learning nothing. I was just passed along to the next grade. But, by my junior year I was told that I wouldn’t graduate on time. At first I was upset, not because I was leaving the school but I was leaving behind friends. Yet I was happy to leave a school that had just passed me along.

I entered a College/High School program that gave me a second chance, a chance that would awaken me.

“I began to learn so much that it sparked my curiosity.”

I went from just going to school because it was mandatory but because I saw a solution to problems in my community. I understood that going to school was the solution to help my community. I began to volunteer and that opened my eyes wider to other problems faced in my community; the lack of good education, access to health care and the basics of safety.

My community has a long way to go and that’s why I have set on a mission to advocate for communities like mine. I am a student, a student that wants low-income communities to flourish. I am a student that is applying to transfer. I want my achievements to inspire others. I want to change things to better others who have also been passed along.


Storyteller Maria Lara is a student activist who lives in the East Bay.

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