The first year we were in the States, I didn't go to school. I was 13, and my siblings and I worked a lot. We painted numbers on curbs because that was my mother's boyfriend's job. My mother didn't want me to go to school, but one day, I just walked over to the high school and signed up. They placed me in ninth grade.
I didn't speak any English when I arrived, so I was put in ESL classes. The teachers saw I was a good student. I got a note from my English teacher saying, "You're going to be very successful. I believe in you." I got so motivated that someone believed in me. By my junior year, I was taking AP classes and learning about college. My mother took my two younger siblings back to Guatemala and left me and my sister alone.Read her story, and three others, here.