Francisco was born and raised in Miami, Florida, by parents who are both college-educated professionals. “I always had a hidden urge…to exceed my own expectations for grades,” he says, explaining that his parents did not demand this of him. His inner drive became self-fulfilling. “Now,” he adds, “my main motivation for going to college and pursuing higher educational opportunities is the sense of value and purpose I see in my work and effort.”
He recently graduated from Saint Brendan High School and will attend the University of Florida in the fall. Finances are a challenge, but he’s determined to find a way to cover the cost without placing the burden on his parents who have, he says, already done so much for him.
Francisco was a Top Ten Scholar—consistently earning one of the ten highest GPAs in his class—and made the Principal’s Honor Roll. He was also awarded the Cornell University Book Award. In addition to achieving academic excellence, he took on a number of leadership roles in extracurricular activities, serving as president of the school’s National Spanish Honor Society and the Law Club, as well as vice president of the student body and the school’s chapter of the National Chinese Honor Society. In addition, he was treasurer of the BTV Club, facilitating the school’s morning announcements by anchoring the segments, creating scripts, and researching viable news stories, as well as managing the club’s finances.
In the wider community, he has been an altar server at a parish church since eighth grade, and volunteers as an after school tutor at an elementary school in a socio-economically deprived area of Miami. During summers spent in Mexico, he has worked as a country club summer camp counselor, helping to arrange games and activities for elementary age kids. He drew on his life experience in Mexico, in a speech he gave in Mandarin at the Annual Florida International University Chinese Speech and Skit Contest, winning first place.
In June 2019, Francisco was one of 200 students selected to attend the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s annual Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) at The University of Chicago. YLI is a four-day, overnight program that gives outstanding, Latino, rising, high school seniors the practical tools they need to set a course for success in college and career. He notes that “being part of the HSF Network means more than just attending a seminar.” He sees it as a means of improving society, helping to change and shape the Latino narrative and representation, learning from the experience of others, and as a gateway to creating necessary change.
In college, he intends to study political science, with a goal of pursuing law or politics. His message to students who hope to go to college one day is to recognize that individual achievement is well worth striving for, not just for the sake of attaining their personal best, but as a springboard for making important contributions to society.