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Last updated: 2005
Mario Rojas is a young man with an enormous smile and an even greater spirit. Abandoned by his mother and father as a child, Mario was raised by his grandparents until the age of 8. When his grandparents were no longer able to care for him, his mother and her boyfriend “took him in.” The next two years were filled with violence and abuse by both adults, so severe that Mario finally fled at the age of 10 and became homeless. He lived on the streets of El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and finally the United States, and is now living in a homeless youth shelter.
Mario has learned English and maintains a 3.6 grade point average, despite the fact that the shelter where he had previously been living was only open from 8 pm until 8 am, requiring him to be on the street when he was not working or in school. Mario has made friends with other young people living in the youth shelter, and runs on his high school’s cross country team, practicing every day – rain or shine. Mario is a dedicated young man who is proud of his achievements, and says “I value myself, family, friends and people … I believe that we are all special somehow.” He plans to graduate from college and be a youth counselor, “so that I can help other children overcome their obstacles, as I have overcome mine.”
The Children’s Defense Fund is inspired by his perseverance and positive spirit, and is pleased to recognize Mario as a 2005 Beat the Odds® Scholarship recipient.