Jose’s application was one in which much was said between the lines. His essay described surviving a tropical hurricane when he was 7 years old, a storm so powerful that it destroyed a nearby boardwalk. With no power and no regular access to food, his family survived on emergency rations. As a result, he wrote, “In moments such as the 2020 pandemic I now know how to handle tough situations.“

His college counselor added that Jose “understands how to work hard,” and his math teacher for two years described Jose as an “excellent student with high motivation and a remarkable ability to learn advanced mathematical concepts and apply what he has learned.” The teacher also cited Jose’s “exceptional intellectual ability and personal character maturity.”

Jose’s school has a piano club, and he has discovered love for playing the instrument, as well as composing his own music. “When I play the piano,” he wrote, “I feel as if I am sent into a world of music that allows me to freely explore the endless possibilities that music gives.” He has found that the best way to practice is by playing with his peers in the piano club. “While I am no Mozart,” he wrote, “I still try my best and enjoy my time when I play. It is a hobby I intend to pursue.”

Jose intends to study business and finance, motivated in part by a desire to help other family members. 

The teacher/mentor that has made the greatest difference in my life is Michael Buitrago, my English teacher. He not only served as a source of mentorship during my freshman year of high school, but also pushed me to involve myself in extracurricular activities within my school, which has allowed me to be more open to new opportunities.