LatinaLista -- Fabian Ramirez is a youth motivational speaker and regularly speaks to students every year in schools, churches and community events.
"I was the student that would ask what it took to get a "C," shares Ramirez. "I should've been asking what it was going to take to receive an "A" but that was never my goal.
"After graduating from Milby High School (in Houston, TX) in 1999, I set forth to begin my college career at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX. It was at San Jacinto College where I had to take a placement test only to fail all three parts of the test putting me in remedial courses.
"So my first semester of junior college was about learning how to read and write properly, something I still struggle with."
Though college wasn't easy for him, Ramirez did graduate and became the first person in his family to get a college degree. It's something he wants to see replicated in Latino families across the country.
From speaking to many Latino students over the years, Ramirez feels there are three basic things every student needs to succeed in school.
No other statement has made my stomach turn more than when I heard President Obama say that 1.2 million students drop out of school every year.
In Connecticut, the annual dropout rate is more than twice as high among Hispanic and Black students as opposed to their White and Asian classmates. Nobody knows the answer as to why this is the case.
Many blame the social-economic environment in which many of these students live. Some blame the school systems in which the students attend classes. We are in a crisis and in a time such as this it's easy to point fingers at people who decide where to spend money but it doesn't get to the core issue, our kids are dropping out and they need our help.
In working with Hispanic youth for over ten years I realized why some kids have a harder time in school than others. There are three areas in a child's life that are instrumental and if addressed can help students stay on track to graduation.
The three areas are: parent involvement, educators/mentors, community involvement.
Students often have a hard time getting along with their parents during their teenage years but it's still vital for parents to teach their children about the importance of education. Parents can show support by taking their kids to school and offering encouragement every day. They can connect their children with family members who have finished high school.
Parents who teach their children about the job opportunities that are available to students who finish high school and go on to earn a college degree, have an easier time raising their teens to appreciate school.
Parents must provide basic necessities while their children are in school or else teens will choose to work to earn money rather than applying themselves at school.
There are two ways in which people learn in life, the first is by mistakes and the second is by mentorship.
Students who are mentored make wiser decisions and they learn from the mistakes of others. Students who are not mentored have to learn by their own mistakes. Learning by mistakes is the hardest way to learn and decisions that students make during their teenage years are difficult to reverse.
The biggest mistake students make is decide to drop out of school. For one, the decision hurts their self-confidence and second the chances of dropouts returning to school or study to receive a GED are slim.
It's been said that is takes a village to raise a child. Well often times it feels like it takes the whole Hispanic community to make sure one of our kid's graduates from high school.
So when one Hispanic graduates it feels like we all graduated. It's sort of like soccer, when Mexico scores a goal, we all jump for joy. It only takes one person from every community to make a difference and that's why it's important to encourage as many Hispanic students as possible to finish high school.
I always tell students to treat the adults in their life with respect. When an adult feels respected by a teenage student, they respond by wanting to help that student in any way possible.
Ultimately, students have to make a decision as to what they are willing to commit their lives to. If they want to be mediocre, they will slack off at school. Students who excel in their studies understand that they must push themselves to study hard for tests and take time to complete homework assignments.
Students are successful when they have support from their parent(s), they meet with a mentor on a regular basis and they have some sort of involvement within the community.