Erick Juarez’s Story

Erick Juarez, Passport Class of 2019

Erick, holding the mandolin, at an outdoor program before the start of school

Erick came to Passport with a clear vision. He vividly remembered how hard it was to adjust to the US as an 11 year old from Guatemala. With a college degree, he knew he would be better equipped to give back to other immigrant families. 

Erick was the model Passport student: dedicated, hard-working, and ready to take in all the new information and skills the program had to offer. He already spoke Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese and planned to major in linguistics. 

By last Spring, all that was left was for Erick to make a decision: Gordon College or Salem State. But a few weeks before College Decision Day, Erick went off the radar. His Coach, Robert, sensing that something was wrong, tracked him down.  As Erick describes, “I started doubting myself and I kind of gave up on going to college. High school was sometimes hard and I didn’t think I could make it academically in college.” It’s a familiar circle of fears that can get the best of many first generation students whose families aren’t equipped with the experience to bat down the lies. 

Robert and the HERC team quickly put a plan together to give Erick all the opportunities he needed to regain his confidence. Most importantly, Robert made the trip up to Gordon with Erick, where Erick met with linguistics and computer science professors and had lunch with Latino student group leaders. Erick says this was the day that “you made me realize I could do this. I thought about how my parents sacrificed themselves to give me a better life in this country, about the better life I could give my future children by going to college. I knew I could be the one to make the change in my family, to be the first to go to college.” 

In his first year at Gordon, Erick is thriving and credits Passport for preparing him. He explains, “Passport didn’t just concentrate on applications, it also taught us what college is about. I learned to use calendars and agendas for the first time. I also learned a lot about visiting and communicating with professors.” The sky is the limit for this young scholar, and the HERC team can’t wait to follow his journey. 

“Passport gave me all the resources I needed and fought for me to get to college. I am so grateful.”