Neither of my siblings made it through high school: my oldest sister was expelled after she became addicted to drugs and left home at 17, and my middle sister dropped out after she had her first baby at 15. She is currently working on getting her GED.
I’m a sophomore at Rogers New Technology High School in Northwest Arkansas, and I am going to be the first in my family — not only to make it through high school, but also to graduate from college. My parents came to the United States in hopes of providing a better future for their children. I want to make my parents and my grandfather proud, and I want to make myself proud.
Angie Carranza with her mother at the Rogers Honors Academy induction ceremony
This past weekend, I was inducted into the first class of the Rogers Honors Academy, a brand new program aimed at helping top students from my school district reach and excel at leading colleges. As part of the honors academy, we’ll go on college visits and get advice that will help us understand all of our options to make the best choices and reach our goals. We’ll also get to mingle with top students from other local high schools and learn about college life from Rogers alumni who now attend elite colleges.
Personally, I want to be pre-med at Harvard. I’m taking all the advanced science classes I can to prepare; this year, I’m already taking AP biology. But I’m open minded, and interested in learning about all of my options.
When I first found out I was selected to participate in Rogers Honors Academy, I couldn’t believe it. There are no rules to life, and this program will give me a glimpse of what I can expect and what I need to do to prepare.
I doubt if anyone would have guessed early on in my education that I’d be tapped for a prestigious program like this one. I immigrated to the United States from Honduras when I was 4 years old. I didn’t speak any English and I remember the feeling of being surrounded by people speaking gibberish; I remember how scary it was to walk into a country where I didn’t know the language, the traditions, the culture. I remember friends in my kindergarten class whispering translations to me so that I could answer even basic classroom questions. It took me all year to learn — with help from my friends and my older cousins.
I also remember when I first realized that I wanted to make something of myself: I was in the third-grade spelling bee. I’d ask my dad to pronounce practice words and help me memorize them. I’d also ask my older sisters. They’d tell me to “be quiet” or “go away.” I knew then what I know now: it takes hard work to learn and it takes practice to win.
I have worked hard already, and I’m committed to continuing to work hard, as a member of the inaugural class of the Rogers Honors Academy and beyond.
The Walton Family Foundation helped support the creation of the Rogers Honors Academy, which started this year under the leadership of Carla Fontaine, who came to Rogers Public Schools from Harvard University, where she was a career counselor.