As graduation season gets underway, students from across the country will take the stage at their schools to reflect on their academic experiences and the future that lies ahead for the class of 2019.
At Westmont High School, senior Monica Herrera Luque will be providing the keynote address titled “My American Dream.” For her, this event is more than just a commencement speech. It signifies the journey she and her mother traveled to reach this milestone.
Monica immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua her freshman year of high school to be with her mother, who she had been separated from since she was six years old.
“When I found out I was moving to the U.S. I just started to cry, “ said Herrera Luque. “I knew I had to start all over in a country where I had no friends and I didn’t know any English.”
Despite the challenges of starting over and living in a new country, Herrera Luque persevered and started her freshman year at Westmont High School where in just three years, she became reclassified to fluent-English-proficient, an accomplishment she says she owes to her dedicated teachers.
“My teachers saw something in me and never let me give up,” said Herrera Luque about her English Language Development (ELD) teachers.
“I took Summer school for three years and took extra classes so I could catch up and learn English and graduate on time,” said Herrera Luque.
Now Monica will be sharing her inspirational story entirely in English, a language she learned in just four years, at the Westmont High School commencement ceremony on Thursday. And, her journey doesn’t stop there. After receiving more than $6,000 in scholarships, she plans to go to San Jose City College next fall where she will study law enforcement, which is her “American Dream.”
“I have achieved so much, but I know I can do so much more. This is just the beginning” “My dream to become someone not just for myself, but for my mom who worked so hard to get me here,” said Herrera Luque.
She hopes her story will inspire other English learners or underrepresented students to not give up on their education.
“I want people to look at me and say ‘wow, she came from nothing and look where she is now. If she can do it, I can do it.’”