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Last updated: 2009
His home was destroyed before his eyes. He has endured family strife and moved thousands of miles away from his family for a chance at a better life, yet Erick Rodriguez says, “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how a person overcomes their personal problems or barriers.” Erick was born and raised in California, but at the age of eleven, he was forced to move with his family to Guatemala. There his family struggled to make ends meet, yet still managed to build a nice life for themselves. Then Hurricane Stan completely wiped out everything for which Erick’s family had worked. Erick experienced the trauma of swimming through his underwater village, living in an evacuee camp, digging his lifeless neighbors out of mud and debris, and losing everything. His parents sold the last of their valuable possessions so that Erick and his older brother could move back to California, continue their education, and have a chance at going to college.
With $20 in his pocket, Erick returned to California to live with relatives and continue school. Although Erick worked a full-time job and went to school, his family members were not completely supportive, which created conflict at home. Erick and his brother decided to go it alone, getting an apartment together and each working several jobs to sustain themselves. Throughout these struggles, Erick has excelled in both the classroom and in extracurricular activities. Despite attending three high schools in two years, he has been a member of the debate, track, and tennis teams and even started a dance team at one of his high schools. He is also a member of the Educational Talent Search Program. One day Erick would like to be a lawyer, start a dance program for at-risk youth, and do humanitarian work abroad. He believes he can do it all. We agree and honor Erick as a 2009 Los Angeles Beat the Odds award recipient.
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