The typical “American dream” for many of today’s youth still follows the traditional guidelines of the generations before them: work hard in school, get accepted into a good university, graduate with honors, and land a job with upward mobility opportunities.
But the traditional path isn’t always obviously within reach for every young adult, especially those growing up in low socioeconomic communities. While talented and intelligent students come from all kinds of backgrounds, low socioeconomic communities often lack the resources and support structures for students that their middle- and upper-class peers receive, such as tutoring, in-school and after school programming, and simply having role models to give guidance on navigating higher-education.
These students and their families not only have to search to find the additional academic support they need, but also often are missing out on the soft skills learned in expensive extracurricular programs that help young adults succeed in school, work, and life, such as teamwork, public speaking, creativity, and critical thinking. This is the very gap Creative Action seeks to address in our community, in-school, and after school programs.
Creative Action is proud to be part of the formula making it possible for students like Becky Gomez to acquire the social and emotional skills to take them as far as their minds can dream up — in this case, all the way to Stanford University.
Becky recently graduated high school, and during her time as a youth in Austin, participatedin a range of Creative Action programs. This fall, she is attending Stanford University on a full-ride scholarship, an especially impressive feat as the first person in her family to attend college.
Growing up in a low socioeconomic rural community, Becky had to work extra hard for everything she accomplished. She attributes part of her path to success to the social justice lessons and social and emotional skills she gained during her time as a Creative Action student.
“I learned the importance of values like social justice and how to be a good person,” Becky said. “It sounds vague, but when you listen to stories of others in a mural, film, play, or other piece of art, there is vulnerability and storytelling that really makes you look at the world in a different way. Today, I am a huge proponent of debating social issues, and I am confident I wouldn’t be involved if I hadn’t learned about the experiences of others while in Creative Action programming.”
As a quiet and reserved middle-school student, Becky first found her voice and passion for creative expression during a Creative Action film program in sixth grade.
“Creative Action helped me discover new ways of expressing myself,” Becky said. “Performing in front of an audience or camera let me interact with a lot more confidence that as a young student, I needed a lot. It also allowed me to open up a realm of possibilities artistically, such as discovering forms of expressing my creativity that I will now take with me to Stanford and in life. I learned a lot about not only film, but the diligence it takes to create, whether it be a movie or a physics project.”
She has since decided to study Civil Engineering and Art History at Stanford and has many things to look forward to in the coming years.
“I am most excited to grow as a person,” Becky said. “Most of the exposure I have had has been through programs like Creative Action, because my school was quite homogeneous ethnically and economically. It is thrilling to imagine meeting people from different backgrounds and with different stories than my own, because I think that is a huge part of what made Creative Action so special — the diversity.”
Becky’s journey to Stanford is one that a student from any socioeconomic background can appreciate and look up to. She says Creative Action not only encouraged her passion for art, which she will continue pursuing in college, but also the social, emotional, and interpersonal tools she will need to continue chasing her dreams.