Get to know Sammy, one of Access Opportunity's Student Ambassadors for the 2023-24 school year.
Sammy will be a Senior at Pinnacle Charter High School. As a member of the AO Class of 2028, she will graduate high school next Spring and is excited to start the college application process this fall. Throughout the year, we will get to know her better through her stories, experiences, and advice for her fellow AO students.
In Her Own Words
Hello there, my name is Samantha Perez. I am currently a Senior at Pinnacle Charter High School. I was born in Irapuato, a city in Mexico. I was brought to the United States when I was just three years old, and it didn't take long for me to understand the reason why my parents brought me and my brothers here, they wanted a better life. One where we could go to school, later on to college and finally pursue a career. Growing up it was hard for my parents to make a living, but I won't ever forget our first home. Our apartment, and the silly smell in the elevator.
It was all part of my childhood, and I will forever appreciate and thank my parents for that, because they inspired me to create this hunger inside of me to change that. To hold that opportunity, and now that's what pushes me to want to go farther.
With that being said, I've tried experiencing a little bit of everything even if it's new. Something I found quite intriguing was science. It's interesting because each answer brings more questions but there is so much knowledge behind it. Something my brothers have taught me is that knowledge is power.
AO: Are there any ways in your life or educational journey that you feel like a trailblazer?
Sammy: Both of my brothers studied business in college. Yet, I will be the first in my family to join the medical field. It has been an interest of mine since I was younger, ever since my dad commented about how it would probably be impossible to become a doctor. I saw it as a challenge and now I am working to become a doctor. I want to show my dad that it isn't impossible, you could be anyone and you could make a change. I've always wanted to help people and make an impact in the world and people's lives. But for the longest time I asked myself how I would do that, would it be a political statement that would make a change? Or becoming an entrepreneur, and helping satisfy people's needs.
But being able to help someone believe in miracles, is the way I want to change the world. Becoming a doctor or neurosurgeon would save people's lives, it would make a drastic change in the way people think, and that would make an impactful change, one at a time. I am eager to be the first one to accomplish this type of change, I know it would make a difference and make my parents and family proud.
AO: What does it mean to you to be a first-generation student?
Sammy: Being a first-generation student means a new experience. Nevertheless, I've created an open and growing mindset because I know there will be highs and lows. Yet, it's intimidating to ask yourself if you're prepared enough and whether you'll be able to handle it. It's a question many of us avoid, but having a supporting household has taught me to face challenges straight ahead. This has made me stronger and more excited to know what that experience will be like. I know it will be hard at first, being able to adapt and manage new situations but I also know there are many resources out there that can help me mentally and financially.
It's intriguing listening to my brother's experiences in college, they've given me a glimpse of an unfolding moment but, it's not my story. I cannot express enough how thrilled I am to set my mark and pave my own steps into my career, and future dream life. Just like my brothers inspired me, I know I will be able to inspire girls who are the youngest in the family; having older siblings ahead of you doesn't mean you need to follow their steps but rather that it is possible for you to make your own dreams come true.
AO: Thinking back to your time so far in Access Opportunity, do you have a favorite moment (or moments) that stand out?
Sammy: A life changing moment I experienced in Access Opportunity was giving a speech at Raise a Class. It allowed me to share my future dreams and goals I hope to aspire later on in life, and it persuaded me to grow more passionate about going to college and completing my dream career. I improved my speaking skills and learned something new about myself, that is I don't fear speaking in front of people, instead I love it. Being the youngest in my family, I felt very proud of myself, and so did my family because they knew this would change me for the best. I had a realization afterwards, where I acknowledged how I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to, and how powerful that is in life.
It brought confidence and guidance to fully understand the future I want, and the type of surroundings I need to succeed. Now I feel more comfortable sharing my opinions and introducing myself, whether it's in school or while networking with new people. I was able to learn the importance of listening to the audience while presenting, after all it's not a good speech if they aren't involved. With that being said, it was an amazing feeling when the audience gave us a standing ovation at the end of my speech.
AO: How did you first feel when you first got accepted into your Access Opportunity?
Sammy: I was very excited and happy, I also felt very relieved because ever since middle school I was waiting to apply. My brother Manny, was part of the first class in AO. He would always mention the experiences that helped him improve and would tell us about the people he met. He inspired me to want to do the same during my sophomore year. It was an important day when I found out I got in, I was getting ready for prom and my mom was helping me do my hair, we were deciding whether I should leave it down or put it up then I grabbed my phone to look for ideas, yet every day I would check my phone for an update. So I did, and when I first saw the email I looked at my mom, and she seemed as anxious as I was, so I opened it to read more and I yelled "I got in!".
I ran to my brother and told him the news. I felt so accomplished and proud knowing that everything I had been working hard for was finally paying off. I felt accepted for being my authentic self and eager to experience what it would be like being part of AO.
AO: Are you involved in any groups or clubs at school? Why did you choose the one(s) you did?
Sammy: Yes, I am involved in many clubs! I like meeting new people and learning new things. I am part of both the reading and poetry club. I've always had a passion for writing whether it's writing about my feelings or expressing my creativity and point of view. Once I heard my school was offering it, I decided I wanted to improve my writing and also get to hear about people's experiences and points of view. I've always been interested in drawing, photography, and ceramics. The art club was a good opportunity to exploit that interest.
I was introduced to other forms of art, such as water and oil painting, and different techniques used to draw portraits. I am a member of the pride club which is focused on helping our community feel included, and also helping those in need. We have done food and clothing drives, persuading other people to do the same. I am part of the volleyball, track, and cheerleading team. I am really competitive when it comes to sports but I was intrigued seeing how these teams were a family and I wanted to be part of it. It's important to have a support system when improving, joining these teams helped me. Cheerleading I joined because I wanted to be there for my school, and spread positivity to the crowd even when moments get tough.
Stay tuned to hear more from Sammy throughout the year!