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DAVID LARREA

DePaul University, Student

At the time that this was written, David had just reached his junior year of college as an 18 year old. Outside of school, he volunteers as a tutor for U.S. residents attempting the U.S. citizenship test and raises money for childhood cancer research. Before these successes, David was denied from every school he applied to, flunked U.S. history class, and got fired from a pizzeria.

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"Having two older 'screw-up' brothers really puts the pressure on the third to avoid the same mistakes. Having a D average since the 2nd grade really doesn't give the impression of success. Being told by your elementary school principal that you 'won't get anywhere in life' isn't the ideal phrase to hear when you're 7 years old. My only issue was that I never changed.

I was accepted into a reasonable high school because of the sibling rule in the charter system, and I transferred out at the end of my sophomore year with about a 1.9 GPA. I failed my first and only class of my life, and it was U.S History. I still keep that fourth quarter report card on my nightstand so I look at the straight D's and the single F every time I clean my room. Surprisingly, even to me, I had never failed a single class at that point. There's nothing like going into a new school during your junior year as a high-risk liability to the program. After a few weeks of my usual self and finishing an online class to cover for my failure, something clicked. For the first time in my life, I realized that I was surrounded by peers that wanted to succeed and teachers that wanted to help. I picked up my grades to a B average for two years and applied to every school I could for general engineering, which was a complete long shot, but I had to try. I was denied from every single one. Late in the year, as all of my friends accepted their offers of admission, I almost fully wrapped my head around never going to college. One day my parents and counselor had a surprise meeting during class and pushed me to try one more application as a marketing major instead. There's nothing more motivating than seeing your mother cry one more time over your mistakes.

On national college decision day, I received an acceptance packet for DePaul University and the weight on my back for 12 years lifted ever so slightly, but I knew I still had a long road ahead. Today, for the first time in my life, I have a life plan. I'm passing my classes and am planning on adding a minor in music management to help achieve my goal of creating a music promotion company right here in Chicago. Every week, I go into class and think about the past, but I also think about the future and even the present just to remind myself how much work I still have to achieve my dreams."