Enrique Gonzalez: Mentors key to immigrant student success
Learning English as an only child from a Spanish-speaking immigrant family came fairly easy for Enrique Gonzalez. But that wasn’t the case for many of his classmates in the Carbondale schools he attended while growing up.
“It wasn’t something I really had to struggle with, and that allowed me to help some of the others who were struggling,” Gonzalez said. The Roaring Fork High School graduate and Carbondale native is now a freshman at Colorado School of Mines.
If he noticed a fellow student who was not able to speak English, or was having a hard time understanding a math concept that was being explained in English, he would try to help.
“To learn in completely new language adds a whole different level of complexity,” Gonzalez said. That’s especially true for the students who come to the country at an older age.
Gonzalez entered the Roaring Fork PreCollegiate program in middle school with an eye toward being the first in his family to attend college. In high school he became a tutor as a way to help his fellow students.
Gonzalez was one of a trio of RFHS students from Latino immigrant families who last year earned the coveted Daniels Fund Scholarship. Classmates Lorenzo Andrade and Fabian Rico are also in their first year of college at California Polytechnic and Seattle University, respectively, thanks to their academic and leadership successes that played heavily in being selected for the Daniels.
“Roaring Fork prides itself on academics and keeping students together, and really helping those students who are weak in an area,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez is bilingual in English and Spanish, and is learning German.
“Mines has a reputation for being a really hard school, and it does live up to that,” he said of his first year in college. Gonzalez is still selecting a major, but said he is leaning toward computer science and engineering.
Gonzalez gives special thanks to RFHS Vice Principal Kelsie Goodman and to math teacher Wendy Boland for their support and that extra push during his high school years. His PreCollegiate mentors and program directors David Smith and Leslie Emerson were also big influences, he said.
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