Perseverance: The key that unlocks success

Carlos - San Diego, California
Entered on April 28, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Perseverance is the persistence to reach a goal even in the face of many obstacles. This, I believe, is the key to success. In my personal experience, it has been this determination to get ahead in life that has gotten me through the many challenges I have endured.

My upbringing was less than ideal. I grew up in a single parent home without a positive male figure. My uncles were either drunkards or drug addicts and the majority of the women in my family were single mothers. The odds were against my cousins and me. What could be expected from us? Although many of them did follow the same path, I always refused to be a statistic. The future looked bleak, but I was determined to change it.

As a child, money was scarce and there were days when we had nothing to eat. On many occasions I sat with mom and cried over this. I didn’t always understand the depth of her sadness and frustration, but I knew I had to help. She would tell me, “God will get us through this. You go to school and become somebody.” It was difficult to focus on learning during these times, but I wanted to make my mother proud. I pressed on and finished middle school even amidst the hunger, instability, and discouragement from relatives and friends who would say, “Why do you study? It’s such a waste of time!”

When I got to high school I succumbed to peer pressure to use drugs. Despite my addiction, I never considered dropping out of school and was amazingly able to graduate successfully. It was very difficult, however, to stop using drugs. It took a near death experience to finally quit. I distanced myself from dangerous friendships and developed a committed relationship with God.

I was a drug-free Christian when I met my wife, moved to the United States, and got married. When I decided to pursue a college degree I ran head-on into one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced – a language barrier. I had already completed a degree in Mexico and became frustrated to learn that I basically had to start over in this country. This frustration was compounded by the fact that I had to do it in a completely foreign language! Writing essays was especially difficult because I would write them in Spanish first and then translate them word for word. Two and a half years later, however, I earned an Associate’s degree with honors. I graduated in the top 20 in my class with a G.P.A. of 3.95 and I received numerous recognitions and scholarships.

Some have said that it has been luck, but I don’t believe in luck. God has helped me through everything, but he has also given me the will to choose whether I want to be a fighter or a quitter. Yesterday, today, and always I choose to fight and to persevere no matter what.