No one expected Jesus Vallejo to achieve great things until one day he decided he would study hard, transform his life, and make people look twice the next time they saw him.
Jesus Vallejo is driven to work hard – if only to prove people wrong. “My father only completed sixth grade in Mexico before coming to the United States,” he explains. “No one ever expected me to go to college. I’m here to change that perception, not just for myself but for the Hispanic community at large.”
Inspiration to succeed came after Vallejo met his aunt’s fiancé his junior year of high school. “He told me that if I worked hard, I could make something of my life the way he had,” explains Vallejo, who soon went from earning Cs, Ds, and Fs to landing a place on the honor roll. During his senior year, he won a prestigious writing contest sponsored by Mikva Challenge, a nonprofit that encourages students to actively participate in the political process.
Vallejo chose Oakton because he wanted to be close to home. He has no regrets. “There’s support for students from all backgrounds. Even though only about 12 percent of Oakton’s students are Hispanic, I don’t feel out of place,” notes Vallejo, who hopes to become a high school history teacher after earning his associate’s degree and transferring to the University of Illinois for his bachelor’s degree.
Now that he’s come so far, Vallejo won’t let anything get in the way of his dreams. “I like to hang out with my friends and play video games and soccer,” he admits, “but class work comes first. I am determined to succeed.”