By Deborah M. Walker and TNCP Staff
LANSING, MI -- Adrian Carrillo has come a long way. He was misguided after his parent’s divorce. His grades struggled some, then he found out about a program starting his junior year of high school and his life was never the same.
His mother, Irma Carrillo, said her son graduated from Eastern High School, in 2013, with honors. Carrillo was 1 of 19 Valedictorians at Eastern whose grade point average (GPA) was more than a 4.0. Carrillo said his own GPA was around a 4.3. On a scale of 1-4, that is quite impressive.
“My motivation for doing well is that I want to provide for my family. Right now I don’t have children but I would be able to help my mom and my brothers. I want to be a help not a burden to my family. Education is the best way to achieve positive goals,” said Carrillo.
For Carrillo, school has been a way out. He says if he can succeed, he can help others succeed as well. He takes pride being a role model for his youngest brother Julian Carrillo, 14, who currently attends Eastern High School and is in honors classes. For Carrillo, being there for his brother is why he strives to be the best that he can.
“Not too long ago my brother told me ‘you inspire me to do good’… It’s a good feeling and it is all about leading by example,” said Carrillo.
Carrillo said he wants to set a good example for all the youngsters in his family. It is important for Carrillo that his nieces, nephews and cousins excel in school as well. Carrillo has learned a lot on his journey.
Now into his last semester at Lansing Community College (LCC), and awaiting transfer to Michigan State University (MSU) as a member of the 2+2+2 Engineering Program, he has some words of advice to others who are in school trying to find their way. Follow these tips and a successful semester is sure to be the outcome.
“It doesn’t matter about where you start out because eventually we’ll all get there. Some students start off in Algebra. But there are a lot of people that start off in pre-Algebra and are able to finish in a timely manner too… we’ll all get there. Just be determined and have plenty of patience especially when you have family problems that have the potential of getting in the way or slowing you down,” said Carrillo.
There are many benefits to being in the 2+2+2 Engineering Program starting the junior year of high school it offers free tuition to LCC for up to 4 years and 2 years of free tuition at MSU. Upon completion of the program, students are enrolled into LCC’s Pre-Engineering program. After successful completion of the program, students are automatically admitted into MSU’s College of Engineering. A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained. Students are also required to attended classes and special events 90 percent of the time.
Carrillo knows how progress is won. He said it was a struggle to focus and concentrate after his parent’s divorce. He said just like with any other adolescent going through a similar situation, it was a difficult. However, as time went on he was able to regroup.
“There were times when I didn’t want to study. I didn’t want to do anything. All I wanted to do was play around to help me keep my mind off things that would keep me focused,” said Carrillo.
Carrillo grades did recover and they were better than ever.
Irma Carrillo said it was difficult for her financially after her divorce. She was thankful that her son was in the program. According to Irma, it has been a great help to her that the tuition is paid for. She does still help Carrillo with room and board and the cost of books. Irma said that is what good parenting is all about, being there and being supportive whenever possible.
“Adrian has made me very proud because of the struggles we’ve gone through… he was able to graduate with honors and he’s doing very well,” said Irma Carrillo.
Carrillo works 20 hours a week providing security for LCC. This also helps to cover his expenses.
Irma Carrillo said she is proud of all her sons. Her oldest son, Vincent VanHorn, works full time and is a devoted father. Her youngest son, Julian, is preparing to follow in his brother’s footsteps and is looking forward to entering the 2+2+2 Engineering Program when he enters his junior year.
Both of the Carrillos agree that parental involvement is critical when it comes to having a successful semester. She said as a mother in today’s society, it is important for parents to be supportive of their students and provide the materials necessary for success.
Homework was also a top priority in the Carrillo household, as well as, attending parent teacher conferences. Carrillo said one way to keep parents involved is for the student to update them on what is going on at school.
“The students can take that initiative to tell them how their school day went, or how they’re struggling. When you start involving your parents, they want to be involved. It makes life a lot easier when the support is there. It worked for me,” said Carrillo.
Another way for parents to stay involved is for parents to check back packs and look for school newsletters. Sending notes is also a good way to keep in contact. Oftentimes parents take these simple suggestions as something that would be customary in elementary school, however, that is not the case. Knowing the school agenda is important at any school age. Also you may call the office or check the website for updates. Some schools even have automatic phone calls and email messages that are sent to parents about upcoming events.
Carrillo said it is beneficial for students to take advantage of the resources around them. Tapping into what the school has to offer them takes initiative. One way to do this is to get in touch with the counseling center. Students and parents can benefit from the counseling center. They have a plethora of information from internship postings to graduation information.
Carrillo said he was “lucky,” to get into the 2+2+2 program because he utilized the resources around him. According to Carrillo, people are always looking to help someone, just ask. Another way to have a successful semester is to create good studying habits. A social life is important, but school is always a top priority.
“We’re still kind of young so it’s good to have play time and work, but you just have to find a balance to that,” said Carrillo. “Do a little bit of homework here, take a break, study a little bit more, do another break. Just pace yourself.”
Carrillo added another tip for a successful semester is not to become overwhelmed. This can be a contradiction because Carrillo’s next piece of advice is to not let up or go easy in school. It is easy to slack in school or fall behind. It is important to work hard, but still time find to relax.
Carrillo said his plans after college is to get a job in his field and continue to work to support his family.
He smiled and said that he has one final piece of advice.
“There are single parent households, hopefully these students don’t let it persuade them to fail. There’s a lot of people who come from nowhere and they get to places far beyond their dreams. As long as you strive and follow your dreams, work hard for it and everything that you want will come your way,” said Carrillo.
This was printed in the March 20 - April 2, 2016 edition.