Maximo De La Cruz (2016)
Coming from a low socioeconomic background can be really detrimental in the development of a student’s academic path. A lack of resources magnified by a lack of role models are two of the biggest contributing factors as to why a lot of students in poor backgrounds do not further their education. What is even worse is the fact that there is a strong correlation between students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and students from minority backgrounds. If one would look at the demographics of students from some of the best universities around the country, he/she would see a very low number of African-American and Hispanic students. How is one supposed to beat the odds and go to some of the best universities around the world without resources and a supportive community?
My name is Maximo De La Cruz and I am a senior at Louis E Dieruff High School. Next year I will be attending Princeton University. My road to Princeton has been anything but easy. Before I begin that story, let me start with a brief summary of my life. I grew up in the Bronx, New York where poverty and tragedy was all around me. My mother had to work two jobs just to be able to provide my siblings and me with necessities. When I was ten, my mother moved us to Allentown, PA to be closer to our family. Growing up in an unfamiliar place was a struggle for me. I didn’t know anybody and I had to adjust to being the new kid in town. As a result, I turned to my studies as an escape. Getting good grades and learning as much as I could was always my first priority. When I entered high school, I decided to take my education to a whole new level.
I dedicated my entire high school career to preparing for my future. While kids were out partying or doing wrong things, I would be indoors studying or prepping for the SAT. I took as many rigorous classes as I could handle and dedicated a lot of my time to extracurricular activities that matter to me. I wanted to make the best out of my situation. I didn’t let my negative surroundings nor lack of resources affect me. I am a strong believer in self-help. I took the time to study on my own and to prep for standardized tests. I knew that I had a lot of potential and I was willing to do anything to go as far as I could. I was sick and tired of the poverty and crime in Allentown. I wanted to be a role model so that kids from younger generations could look up to me and say, “Since he did it, so can I.”
Although my journey through high school has been long and difficult, I can say that every moment has been worth it. There have been moments where I felt like giving up and be a normal student but my aspirations kept me moving forward. I joined programs throughout my summers to keep my mind sharp and to expand my education. The summer of tenth grade I joined Futuros Empresarios. That program gave me my first experience at what it was like to attend an actual university. The program also exposed me to the study of business. It even provided me with an internship at Air Products. The knowledge and real-life experience that I acquired through the Futuros Empresarios program is priceless. The summer of eleventh grade I was invited to attend the prestigious Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America at Princeton University. Throughout my seven weeks there, I received SAT prep and learned valuable leadership skills that will stay with me forever.
Reflecting on my past is a true delight for me. I am immensely proud of the work and dedication that I have put in to get to where I want to be. I truly hope that anybody that is from a similar background as me that is reading this knows that he/she is not alone. Although you may feel like you are the only one in your community that cares about education, know that you are not alone. There are many students around the country that feel the same way. Take pride in knowing that you are working for a better life for you and for your family. As a kid from a Dominican family, I can truly say that my effort and accomplishments will one day provide a better life for me and my family. Anything is possible with enough work and dedication. Never let anyone say you can’t do it. The only opinion that matters is your own. Success is the sweetest way to get back at people that doubted you.
- Maximo De La Cruz
Ruben De La Cruz (2015)
It seems like ages ago when I reminisce about the Futuros Empresarios program; it brings forth memories of both an exciting and productive summer. It was the spring of 2009, when I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Fe Program's inaugural class. I remember hearing about the program from my mentor and friend, Ferdinand Surita, whom had mentioned what a great opportunity this was to get a taste for both college and the business world. Let's face it as teenagers we probably have way too much free time during the summer, I know I did, so I thought what a great chance to keep busy while investing in my future.
Looking back, the Fe program was certainly a worthwhile and fun experience. I was able to learn more about my career goals and aspirations, get a feel for a company's work environment, and make friends along the way. During the first couple of weeks of the program, we had classroom sessions where we researched possible career paths of interest, worked in groups to solve challenges, and experienced what a college class feels like. For the latter part of the program, I was assigned to intern at Aetna, a health insurance leader in the Lehigh Valley. This was my favorite part of the program, as I got to see first-hand what to expect when I make it out to corporate America. As an intern, I would shadow different departments of the company, and got to see a glimpse of how the company operates, and what the corporate culture was like.
So how has the Fe program impacted me, might you ask? Well let's see, since then, I've graduated with honors from Moravian College, passed the CPA exam, moved out on my own in Philadelphia, PA, where I currently handle operations for a hedge fund. Am not a genius nor did I have every advantage growing up, in fact am probably like most of you students sitting here today. I am a Dominican brother that was raised right here in center city Allentown, PA. I was just lucky to have been surrounded by so many people that genuinely cared about my future, think of the Suritas and Alvaros of the world. That being said, it is not enough to just surround yourself with the right people, you also have to foster these relationships and seize the opportunities when presented to you. The Fe Program is such an opportunity, and I applaud each and every one of you for taking that first step towards success. As you benefit from such programs, it is also important to give back, and "if you're lucky enough to do well, it is your responsibility to send the elevator back down" (1).
(1) - Kevin Spacey
- Ruben De La Cruz
Laura Amigo (2013)
Laura is a recent FE Graduate of the class of 2013. She had a great internship experience at PPL Corporation where she met with different mentors daily, throughout her four weeks with the FE Program Internship. Her experience shaped her goals to becoming a mechanical engineer, and has helped define her future of success. She proved to be a major asset in her group of interns placed with PPL Corporation and stands as a leading example for future FE Students.
"All the engineers, within the company, with whom I talked, have been wonderful mentors in helping me learn more about being in the field of engineering. My time at PPL Corporation has helped me become even more motivated about becoming a mechanical engineer than ever before. Being with so many people from different areas of the company made the experience in PPL even more exciting, interesting and rewarding. Having interned with the PPL Corporation has been a fantastic experience. This experience is invaluable and will certainly have a positive influence and impact on my future."
- Laura Amigo
Devon Montes (2013)
Devon is the 2013 FE Program Class Speaker, and a great example of our FE Students. He was also placed with an internship at PPL Corporation, and received impressive evaluations from all his mentors during his four week-long internship. He has integrated what he learned from the different departments and will use it to influence future entrepreneurial decisions.
"The experience, information and advice I received at PPL Corporation are invaluable and will greatly influence my future. All of the things I learned throughout my four weeks will be later applied in my future endeavors, and will someday help me to succeed.
- Devon Montes
Karina Lovera (2011)
Karina was a graduate from the 2011 FE program. Her experience with the program brought her to intern at PPL Corporation where she shadowed employees within the company and got a chance to speak with U.S. Representative Charlie Dent. Karina was set up to shadow eight employees during her 4 weeks in the program and internship with PPL. She was able to work in many parts of the corporation where she learned about energy trading, corporate communications, human resources, finance, and government affairs.
"The most memorable moments for me included a luncheon with Congressman Dent, and all of the networking events with the co-ops. Through all of the networking events with the co-ops and the meetings I had with different people in the company, I learned a lot about PPL in the few weeks I was there."
- Karina Lovera
Libby Ortiz (2009)
Libby is a graduate of the FE Program from 2009 where she spent the summer working with Lina Garcia, at the time an executive secretary and office manager at ArtsQuest. During their time there she was able to learn about the business world, assist at the Banana Factory with summer camps, and help prepare for Musikfest.
"I thought it was a good learning experience and it taught me a lot of skills for the business world when I get out of college. I learned how people work in a group and how they work individually and how a nonprofit works and all the other skills that go into making a business."
- Libby Ortiz