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Last updated: 2009
Jonathan Varela’s college counselor Ms. Gutiérrez-Aviles says, “What sets him apart from his peers is his genuine kindness and warmth of personality.” Jonathan’s caring, selfless disposition has helped him remain positive and driven in the face of daily challenges. Jonathan, the youngest of three children, has separated parents who live next door to each other. Jonathan’s mother is blind and his father has struggled with alcoholism for several years. Each day, Jonathan supports both his parents by cooking dinner, cleaning, and handling household matters for his mother at her house, then heading to his father’s place to do the same. After his full day of school and after-school activities and a busy evening of caring for his parents, he is finally able to start his homework and prepare for the next day. In both households, resources are scarce, and there is often not enough money for food and other basic necessities, making caring for his parents that much more difficult.
Yet through his daily struggle to support his family, Jonathan has managed to stay focused on his goals of attending college and improving the community. Jonathan is a diligent student, athlete, and participant in community service activities. He is described as a consistently hard-working student who takes college- level courses and regularly checks to make sure he is on track for college. He is a basketball and varsity tennis player, officer of four student organizations, and has served as a poll worker helping people with disabilities to vote. Jonathan was honored by his high school and accepted into the Putney Student Program through which he traveled to Costa Rica and worked 108 community service hours helping build infrastructure and teach English. Through it all, Jonathan has remained humble and grateful. In his own words: “From my life experiences and my summer in Costa Rica, I have matured and realize that I am ready for any challenges that are ahead.” We proudly honor Jonathan as a 2009 Los Angeles Beat the Odds award recipient.
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