Youth of the Month Essays (2018-19)

Daniel Guzman – October 2018

In my life, I have admired one beautiful and unique human being, Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa had the characteristics I’ve always admired in a person, she was loving and loved helping others. There is one thing Mother Teresa once exclaimed, and it’s something I carry with me every day she said: “It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.” To me, that has always been helping others and seeing a change in others lives, and I love seeing others smile and doing good because that means I’ve done my job right. I’ve lived in Round Lake my entire life and if you were to ask me, “If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you live?”, I would still want to live here in this amazing place.

I have set a goal for myself to help improve Round Lake even more than it already has and change the social narrative that it’s had over the years. Of course, I haven’t done this alone. I see how much this community has grown by itself offering help to students and how much pride we have as a school. My goal has always been to show people that Round Lake High School is full of caring, dedicated, intelligent and hard working people. As you may know the majority of students at Round Lake High School is a Hispanic/Latino community and what does that mean? It means we’re just like any other school on a mission to do something great. It doesn’t mean we’re any different, although we may feel that we are at times compared to other schools due to remarks or opinions they have to say towards us but I have never let that get to me and stop me from doing everything I have done for this community.

I have been involved in our school as much as I could being part of various clubs and activities. I’ve been a part of Panther Crew at the school, where I get to be a role model to many underclassmen and show them what RLHS is about and how amazing this school is and be a helping hand to them when things seem difficult for them. I’ve had the privilege to be part of the new student liaison group where I get to show new students coming in from around the state, country and even around the world. It gives me the opportunity to be the student’s new friend, helping hand, and show them what RLHS has to offer as they make a unique and often scary transition to this school.  I have had the pleasure to be a college ambassador at our school helping students with the college process to see them start a new chapter of their lives and give them any college help they need. I’m a member of the National Hispanic Institute and attended the New York Lorenzo de Zavala youth legislative session which helped me improve my leadership and communicating skills, I even received the award as the most persuasive senator for my collaboration, communication, leadership and hard work, which thankfully I now use in our school. I am also a proud member of the NLCC Leadership Conference representing our tennis team learning ways to be a role model and a leader for the team. These are only a few of the clubs I have been involved in, but there is one that stands out completely from the rest. That activity is Tennis. I want to take the time why tennis is the most critical activity. Tennis plays a crucial part in my life; it gave me a new family, it motivates me, teaches me discipline, and most importantly, it taught me to be proud of where I’m from.

At RLHS, our tennis program had been struggling over the past decade; we’d experience hard losses and receive offensive comments from our students and students from other schools, mainly because the majority of the team is Latino. Other schools would laugh at us when they saw it would be us that they would be playing next. They would say things like, we’re not good enough and that we were an easy win. One even said to me that “they are just a bunch of Mexicans, they won’t be that hard to play against.” These stereotypes and comments made the team feel as if we had bleak chances of achieving anything. It even made me feel inferior at one point. At the end of the 2017 season, which was my sophomore year, I knew it was time to make a change toward the narrative Round Lake had about their tennis team, and although I won 1st place at the #3 singles position that year it made me realize that I have the power to do something great for our school. I knew it would be a team effort, I offered help to my teammates, I bonded with them, and I trusted them. I worked as hard as I could, and I would stay after to help improve my skills and help my teammates with any struggles they had on both the Varsity and JV level. I would play weekends; I would play during off-season hitting indoors and play all I could and even took private lessons. During the season the team and I had a phrase coach Davis always wanted us to remember, “Commitment to the cause,” which was said before, during, and after every single practice and match. This phrase wasn’t just any other phrase; it was a sign of hope and dedication that the team had to reach our goal of winning the conference title it was a beacon of hope for us. The hard work, time, sweat, focus, and commitment paid off. I ended my season with a record of eighteen wins and six losses at the number two singles position, and the team reached a record of wins never seen at RLHS until this day, fifteen team wins and four team losses. Even though we had an impressive record, we knew we had one more thing left to do; we had our eyes on a much bigger prize, a title never won in Round Lake since the 1980’s, we wanted to win a conference title. The tennis team, after many decades, finally won the conference title, with a total of 38 team points at the NLCC conference tournament which put us at 1st place, and after doing so I did one thing; I cried. I cried because all I hoped and dreamed for finally happened. Winning this title didn’t give me the honor of being crowned a champion or being recognized by the school board and even having the plaque; it gave me something else more important, self-realization and it was one step closer to show everyone what we can do. Winning this title showed me what I am capable of accomplishing and showed me my true potential.

Most importantly, winning this title taught me to be proud of who I am and where I am from, that no matter where I live or my ethnicity, I can accomplish anything in life by working harder than anyone else.
 That is why after high school I plan on attending a 4 year university to major in psychology to pursue my passion to help others, and although I may not know what the future may hold for me I know that God has a plan for me and I realized I would have support from everyone to help me through this new and exciting chapter in my life.

Before I leave here I want to reach out to anyone seeking for help, for anyone wanting to make a change, or anyone achieving a goal in their life you will encounter people who will try to put you down and tell you your dreams are redundant. Just know you will never walk alone and that nothing is impossible if you work as hard as you can and dedicate yourself to it and have your commitment to your cause.  Once RLHS reaches its peak and when that change comes I promise that we won’t go back. I hope to continue making an impact on this school and if I was able to make an impact in only 3 years for this school I have yet only to wonder what I can do for everyone else and I hope for the best in the future and help others who need it.