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Last updated: 2005
Jose Estrella’s quiet, gentle demeanor masks the difficult life he has lived. At the age of seven, Jose’s mother died of cancer, leaving him and his three sisters with their father, who struggled with alcoholism. Jose’s father tried to raise the children on his own, but Jose and his sisters were removed from their home because of abuse and neglect. They were placed in foster care, and separated into different homes. Over the years, Jose lived in seven different foster homes, and began to feel his life had no meaning. Looking back, Jose states, “I started gang banging with my homies, but now I realize that they were not friends at all. Hanging around with them almost got me killed. I said to myself, ‘Was this the kind of life that I wanted to live,’ and of course it was not. So I did something about it: I asked my social worker to move me away.”
Jose was moved again, this time to a home with four foster brothers. He began to play soccer, which provided a motivation to help him move on with his life. Jose developed a passion for the sport, making the Varsity team his sophomore year. He began to make new friends, and was doing well in school. Then another serious chapter in Jose’s life began: he stepped into the role of fatherhood. His daughter, Brianna, has brought him strength and the courage to be a better person. Jose is a loving and caring father, lighting up when he speaks of Brianna and stating that he wishes to be “the parent that he never had” for his daughter.
Jose recognizes the tremendous responsibility that lies ahead of him, and he is determined to graduate from college and work as a social worker, so that he can help others. He thanks his mother for being his guardian angel and helping him through the tough times, and knows that she will be there for him as he continues to work towards his dreams.
The Children’s Defense Fund is honored to help Jose fulfill his dreams, and proudly awards him a 2005 Beat the Odds® scholarship.