Spotlight: One student out of 36,000

Wendy Barba

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Juan Preciado Jr, 21-year-old, double majoring in Chicano/a studies and sociology wants  to be a motivational figure for students of color and non english speaking children to  continue their education.  Photo Credit: Wendy Barba / Staff Reporter

Juan Preciado Jr, 21-year-old, double majoring in Chicano/a studies and sociology wants to be a motivational figure for students of color and non english speaking children to continue their education. Photo Credit: Wendy Barba / Staff Reporter

Some children grow up admiring their science teacher. Others want to grow up to be just like their history teacher. But unfortunately, not all children grow up with a figure of inspiration they can look up to within the educational system.

Juan Preciado, Jr. said he grew up with little incentive from his teachers within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Today he looks to make sure all students have someone they can look up to for support and encouragement.

“I experienced careless teachers and counselors that made school even more difficult,” Preciado said.

The 21-year-old, double majoring in Chicano/a studies and sociology, believes this is one reason why very few Latinos pursue an education beyond high school. Preciado said it was discouraging for him to grow up surrounded by teachers who did not care about the education their students were receiving.

Preciado strives to be a motivational figure for children who are attending grade school. He is currently employed at James A. Foshay Learning Center in LA where he is working with English Language Learners as a paraprofessional. His goal is not only to teach these students to better understand the English language, but also to ensure they are given guidance.

“There are a few Latino men involved in education, and I feel it is essential to have figures within education for students of color to relate to and have a motivating figure and person to look up to,” Preciado said.

By inspiring young students, he hopes he will be able to encourage them to stay in school.

“Figures one can relate to within education prevent dropouts and keep students interested and enrolled,” he said.

Preciado’s approach at keeping the youth interested is by being a mentor they can view as a close friend or even relative. Sharing his experiences from when he was young, Preciado hopes it will lead kids to believe they too can become leaders.

But Preciado said his own inspiration today comes from the children he works with on a regular basis.

“The majority of the students I work with are new to the country and understand no English and are unable to read or write. Seeing these students motivates me to continue to pursue an education and become an educator,” he said.

Working with children who are limited in their form for communication helped Preciado realize how much he takes for granted, he said. He now wants to take advantage of all his resources to help students of color continue their education.

“Despite having such horrible experiences, I’ve managed to continue to pursue my education. I want to be that cool, down-to-earth figure any student can relate to, as cheesy as it sounds, to inspire other students to pursue their own education,” Preciado said.