- Los Angeles Unified School District
- Honoring the Class of 2019
Outstanding graduate: Jocelyn Velasquez Baez, University High School Charter
Posted by SAMUEL GILSTRAP on 5/29/2019
Family helped illuminate the pathway to her goals
Among the many valuable lessons our students learn is that with a clear vision and hard work, you can achieve anything. Jocelyn Velasquez Baez, a senior at University High School Charter, has taken this to heart.
"I want to be a leader in global health care," she said. "Based on my family's experiences and a lot of my own research, I've come to realize that the successful practice of medicine involves an understanding of the geography, the peoples and cultures of the world."
In the fall, Jocelyn will attend Wesleyan University, her top choice among 19 schools to which she applied. She was attracted to the school because of its Science and Society Program, which marries the study of bio-sciences with technology and cultural anthropology.
She told the story of her father, who grew up in rural Guatemala, having to travel far and wide to find the care he needed for a life-threatening disease. The wealth of diverse indigenous cultures and languages in the region meant there were a lot of obstacles he had to overcome before his life could be saved.
She spoke of her own upbringing, being a care-giver to her two younger brothers while her mother worked long hours. She says that moving across the country to attend school has her feeling excited but also anxious.
"I was hesitant to commit, because I felt like my family still needed me nearby," she said. "But, they are the ones cheering me on to go. Go pursue your dreams, they tell me. You have done enough for this family."
Like many of her classmates, Jocelyn is the first in her family to attend higher education. She insist she didn't accomplish this on her own, crediting her family as well as the University High faculty – in particular, her college counselor, Debra Van Norden – for providing the clarity she needed to move down the right path.
"We all come from different backgrounds," she said. "And, while those backgrounds are important, they are not what define who you are. It's what you do in your life that defines you."