Coming full circle - a personal story of paying it forward...

 Ben Machado takes a picture with a few Colton High students attending the summit. 

Ben Machado takes a picture with a few Colton High students attending the summit. 

Outreach Specialist, Ben Machado had the privilege of speaking at the Colton Joint Unified School District's (CJUSD) Student Leadership Summit.  As a native of the Colton area, Ben attended J. Paul Rogers, Colton Middle School, and Colton High. During his senior year of high school, he heard a guest speaker, Tyler Durman, who's presentation was so empowering it changed the trajectory of Ben's life. He hoped he could one day do the same for others. That day came when his talk "Learn to Lead, Live to Serve" at the summit struck a cord with a young lady who sent the following email to Ben:

I was thinking about your presentation the whole day. Right now I am a junior at Grand Terrace High School and I am terrified to figure out what’s going to happen after I graduate. Even though I am 100% sure I want to study to become a forensic psychologist, I don’t know what to expect and how to react when I am under pressure. However, today when you spoke to all of us, I somehow felt a hint of hope.

Me, coming from a Hispanic family, never thought that your cultural background could play such a huge role in your education. I am a pretty open person, and I try my hardest to exceed my parents’ expectations because I appreciate everything they’ve accomplished, just like you did. I don’t want to keep missing out on opportunities and I wish to take advantage of everything that comes in my way. It would be an amazing privilege if you could guide me and give me some advice. Thank you. And I really appreciate it.
— anonymous student

Every day we strive to make a difference in the lives of our students by lifting the barriers to educational achievement, and expanding economic opportunities to create safe, healthy, and innovative communities. It's hard work and sometimes we get discouraged. Then we see how the seeds of hope and empowerment that we sew, grow and come full circle. The work we do is making a difference and we share this story so that you too may be encouraged and continue to do the good work that will one day change the landscape of our region.  "Plan Now, Live Well, Serve Here."