Have you ever wondered how your family dynamics affect your future? It used to be that financial status or even ethnicity were large contributors to what future opportunities a person could have. Now, according to a New York Times article last summer, marriage is one of the greatest factors. The article reveals that when it comes to children born and raised in single-parent families, “a large body of research shows that they are more likely than similar children with married parents to experience childhood poverty, act up in class, become teenage parents and drop out of school.”
How Principal Valerie Enriquez Broke the Trend
Fortunately for all of our kids at TIA’s campuses, they have Principal Valerie Enriquez, a tremendous example of someone who has broken that trend. She shows her students that they are the ones who can determine their own destiny and not become a statistic.
Valerie was fortunate to have a gem of a mother who, although a single mom, challenged Valerie to break the family pattern and plan her own future. “I cooked, I cleaned, I got my sister ready for school and even though my mom worked two jobs she always tried to keep me on the right track to pursue my dreams,” said Valerie.
According to Child Trends, a nonprofit research center that studies children at all stages of development, 41 percent of births in the U.S. occur outside of marriage yet only 10 percent of these births occur among people who have a college education. While 60 percent of unwed births come from persons without a college education. What that means according to the data is Principal Enriquez was more likely not to go to college and also six times more likely to become a single parent herself and repeat the trend with her own kids because she was being raised in a single-parent home!
You Determine Your Destiny
Even though all that sounds like a vicious cycle, Valerie, who had all of these challenges against her and still broke the cycle. How? She believed that you determine your destiny. As a result, she became the only person in her family to go to college. If there was a goal, she aimed for it and hit it with pinpoint accuracy. She wanted to be a teacher, which she had accomplished at only 21 years of age. In fact, on her 21st birthday, she didn’t go out and celebrate the typical right of passage into adulthood (party and get wasted) but stayed home and graded papers!
Valerie did have a lot of inspiration. Everyone in her family was involved in education, from her mom who was an administrator to aunts and even her grandmother who was a lunch lady. This inspiration was not enough though. Valerie needed to have a passion to change her destiny. She always tells her students, “Don’t let anything get in the way of your dreams.” Nothing got in the way of her goals, for after she reached her goal to be a teacher, she aimed for being a principal. Under the guidance of Principal Montemayor, she opened the Midvale campus as their first principal.
“Li’l but Feisty”
There’s a reason that her nickname is “Li’l but Feisty.” She fights for her goals and so far she has hit every one of them. Now, her goal is to have her K-12 students excel, pass the AIMS test and eventually go to college. When her students say, “We can’t pass the AIMS,” her reply will be, “Yes you can; you ARE going to pass the AIMS.”