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Christian, Age 18

HOLA Alumnus and UCLA Freshman
Hi, my name is Christian and I am a freshman at UCLA. I am a Physiological Science major with hopes of becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy. I love working with people, especially with children. I grew up with two parents but my mother raised me, she has been the backbone of the family and has shown me the meaning of hard work and dedication. I have absorbed her skills and use them in my life — from working with my tutors to studying for my classes.

When did you start coming to HOLA?
I randomly came when I was 9 years old but started taking it seriously in 2003.

How did you find out about HOLA?
My best friend Victor told me about it.

Did you have any family members who did, or still do, go to HOLA?
My younger brother Peter comes to HOLA everyday.

What public/private/charter school did you attend while at HOLA?
I went to Berendo Middle School and Belmont High School.

How did you get to HOLA after school?
I took the bus.

What was your home situation like when you were coming to HOLA?
Bad. My parents divorced, my father lost his job and I had to work to help my mother.

HOLA’s Mission Statement reads: “Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) provides underserved youth with exceptional programs in academics, arts and athletics within a nurturing environment, empowering them to develop their potential, pursue their education and strengthen their communities.”

What does the above statement mean to you? What does “underserved” mean to you? Was your family financially struggling when you were at HOLA? If so, do they still struggle financially?
It means helping the children in the community. Underserved means lack of sufficient resources. Yes, my family struggled financially when I was coming to HOLA. I still struggle financially, but I manage.

What motivated you to come to HOLA after going to school all day?
It was a place where I saw my friends and we could do homework together.

Were there ever any negative influences that pulled you away from schoolwork or from coming to HOLA?
No, I avoided those things but there were times when I went out to the movies and things like that.

Did you ever give in to any negative influences like drugs or gangs? Were they a part of your reality? And if not, why?
I wouldn’t. I did try a few things and drank booze every now and then, but I didn’t let it interfere with my work.

When you get off track, how do you get yourself back in the race?
I remind myself that I have worked hard to get where I am at and I am not going to let this beat me.

Who is your HOLA hero? Why?
I would have to say Jose Acosta [HOLA’s High School Director]. Why? During Middle School I was not taking my education seriously. When Jose came into my life, he told me that my life is going to dramatically change, but if I take my education lightly, life is not going to get better.

Did anyone at HOLA go the extra mile for you?
Everyone has gone and continues to go the extra hundred miles.

What is the biggest difference that HOLA made for you?
The biggest difference HOLA made in my life is education. HOLA showed me the importance of having an education, and that life is never easy.

How can HOLA change the world?
By continuing what they are doing because helping the community is helping the world.

As an HOLA Alumnus, how often do you still interact with HOLA and the HOLA community?
I am here about 2 to 3 times a week for about an hour or so.

Do you live on campus? If not, where do you live, who with and how do you get to your school?
I lived on campus for the first quarter and now I live at home and I take the bus everyday.

Did HOLA help you get into college? If so, how?
They definitely helped me by helping me with homework, college applications and tutoring.

What kind of interaction or help do you get from HOLA at college presently?
I get moral support and financial help.

What was your college essay about?
One was about my experiences getting robbed at gun and knifepoint and how it changed my life in the sense that we need to help our youth go in a different direction. The other essay was about me, Victor and another friend winning $15,000 to beautify Los Angeles.

What three lessons did you learn at HOLA that has helped you at school and in adult life?
Time management, communication and how to make a resume.

How can you change the world?
By giving back to my community.

How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a person who wanted to help people from all walks of life and situations.

How do you “pay it forward” and give back?

Who is your living hero?

What historical figure do you most admire?
John F. Kennedy. He changed the United States, and if he would have been alive for longer, the problem of racial injustice would have changed dramatically.

How would you be as a parent?
I would be like my mother. As a young child she put me in my place, but she also trusted me and I never wanted to lose that. I think I would be good parent because I will discipline my kids but also trust them and let them know that I will be there for them no matter what.

What do you consider your greatest achievement/accomplishment?
I think my greatest achievement was when I won 3rd Place in the Los Angeles City Section Track and Field in shot put. I had worked so hard in the ring and in the weight room and it paid off. I also got a PR of 41’6.

What is your greatest fear?
To leave my brother alone without a father/brother figure.

What is your greatest fear for other kids in the area you grew up in?
My greatest fear for kids in my area is that they will stop trying after failure.

What is your best talent?
Public speaking.

When and where are you most happy?
At home with my mom, brother and two dogs.

What is your personal motto?
“When life gives you lemons keep’em cuz hey it’s free lemons.”

Who do you want to be?


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