Ramiro Corral Guerrero used to eat his lunch in the bathroom to hide from bullies and because he didn’t know how to speak English.
After about a month of this, he found friends in his teachers at Clark Intermediate School and started eating lunch in their classrooms. They were much different than the teachers he had in his small childhood village in Mexico ruled by drug cartels.
“The teachers would hit us – body punishments with rulers and books,” Ramiro recalled, “and they would miss school a lot.”
His Clovis teachers show up to class and never hit him.
At 17, Ramiro is far different from that shy reclusive boy who used to hide in the bathroom. He’s now fluent in English and is on his way to learning French as a member of Clovis High School’s French Club. It’s among a long list of extracurricular activities he’s involved in, including Latin dance, Academic Decathlon, Science Olympiad, a Veterans Club, Latino Club and Leo Club – the student organization of philanthropic Lions Clubs International.
Ramiro was also recognized as one of Clovis Unified School District’s 2017 Students of Promise during a special ceremony on Wednesday. The 16 high school juniors chosen this year were honored for overcoming personal challenges to excel in school.
To our students of promise: You are incredible people. The world has thrown you a lot, but you have not let obstacles or circumstances stop you from greatness.
Janet Young, Clovis Unified School District superintendent
Some of those challenges: Serious medical conditions, homelessness, abuse and addiction. In 17-year-old Alecsis Tipton’s case, the addiction applied to her mother, who died of a methamphetamine overdose when Alecsis was 12 years old.
The Clovis High School student wants to go to college to become a social worker so she can help children who have gone through similar struggles.
“I really want them to know that there is someone there that wants them to get to a better place,” Alecsis says. “I want them to know there is positivity in the world and they don’t have to keep going through the things that they are going through.”
No matter what happens to you, you are able to overcome anything with positivity.
Alecsis Tipton, age 17
Her grades fell around the time her mother died – all Fs at one point – until her father and grandmother warned that if she failed, her future opportunities would be limited. Alecsis credits family, faith in God, and knowing her strengths and weaknesses in helping her push through pain to succeed.
“I know if I’m weakening in something, I immediately go and get help with it,” she says, “and I take responsibility for myself.”
Her high school counselor, Jennifer Pritchard, describes Alecsis as positive and compassionate – a girl who regularly leaves thank you notes pinned to the door of her office. Alecsis’ grandmother, Mary Tipton-Martinez, paints a similar picture.
“She just has this great heart of gold – she really does,” Tipton-Martinez says. “She’s like a mother hen sometimes to her sister.”
So many people go through challenges each and every day. I would like it if more students shared those experiences, because it would make others feel like they aren’t alone.
Jennifer Pritchard, Clovis High School counselor
Ramiro’s mother, Maribel Hernandez, is very proud of her son. She believes Ramiro will reach his dream of becoming a physician. In Mexico as a boy, he milked cows to make cheese – his family’s main source of income.
Ramiro wants to become a doctor who helps everyone. He dislikes how expensive medical care is now.
“People really need help sometimes and they (doctors) just don’t accept them,” he says. “I would really like to change that.”
I really like to help people.
Ramiro Corral Guerrero, age 17
His dreams don’t stop with becoming a doctor.
“On the side,” he adds, “I would like to be a music producer.”
“Music is the language of everyone,” Ramiro says. “Music speaks to everyone. I really like music, and since it helped me to learn English, I want to help other people to learn other things. … Even music helps you make new friends, because you can share your same interests.”
Ramiro might even make music in Paris someday, a place he envisions as “romantic and exotic.”
He has some words of encouragement – which he shared on Wednesday in Spanish and English – for other immigrants now struggling like he did to find acceptance in a new land:
“Work hard, dream big, never give up, just have faith.”
Clovis Unified School District’s 2017 Students of Promise
- Hailey Berryman
- Parker Fritsch
- Ramiro Corral Guerrero
- Catalina Alvarez Pashon Hernandez
- Kayli Jankowski
- Shealeigh Keeney
- Kia Lee
- Audra Magness
- Pablo David Perez
- Katelyn Robinson
- Nadine Rodriguez
- Princessa Destiny Ruelas
- Alecsis Tipton
- Vichai Thao
- Brandon Vang
- Alexis Watts