Los Angeles – A young Hispanic from East Los Angeles whose dream is to become a mathematics professor is on his way to Yale University, thanks to a scholarship.
For 18-year-old Jose Limon, the third of four siblings in a low-income family, next month will mark a significant change in his life when he begins his studies at one of the world's most prestigious universities.
"For me, the most important thing is never to lose hope," the young man, one of four students to receive a $100,000 scholarship from Ronald McDonald House Charities, said in an interview with Efe.
"Jose graduated from Garfield High School, the same one where teacher Jaime Escalante taught - and about whom the film 'Stand and Deliver' was made - and I'm sure that he has the same passion that Escalante had for math," said Victor Quiroz, the director of the RMHC scholarship program for Southern California.
"It's not a secret. God gave him the intelligence so that he could achieve his successes," Gloria Limon told Efe.
"We sit down with them, we chat, we motivate them and we tell them 'Do what we never did; put your back into something and go forward in everything that you can learn, never backward,'" Rufino Limon emphasized.
"Our first daughter was born after 14 years of marriage," said Rufino. "Then the other three came along, another girl and two boys, and so my wife could no longer work."
The example set by his parents was very important in motivating Jose to stand out in terms of service to the community, one of the differences that helped him obtain the scholarship over other potential recipients.
The Limons have devoted the last seven years to serving as foster parents for many children.
"They return again to their biological families and that makes us happy, but while they are with us they receive support and love and we have the reward of feeling happy with them," Rufino said.
Jose's older sister Maria, the first in the family to go to college, said that that example of generosity and service was an incentive in opening up the road toward higher education.
"I feel very happy because my parents supported me and motivated me a lot to finish (my studies at) the university and I have continued to motivate my siblings," said the oldest of the children, who is currently studying for her Master's degree at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Jose also found in his teachers another resource.
"In school, where the great majority of us were Latino, the teachers were different. I looked at them and wanted to be like them to have the life that they had," the young man said when explaining how he was able to shield himself from negative influences like gangs.
Jose believes that to get ahead it is necessary for young people to seek help. "They have to find someone to help them. I had my sister, but many need to find someone - like the teachers - who will guide and support them," he concluded.