Luis always wanted to go to college but he wasn’t sure it would be possible. Now, the 19-year-old first-generation college student is preparing for his next step in life.
“I am setting an example for my brothers and sisters,” Luis said with pride. “If I can go to school and graduate, they can, too.”
Luis was raised in Mexico where education was a priority in his family. Driven by his determination to succeed, Luis moved to Texas to find more opportunities. His journey wasn’t without challenges.
“I had a bit of a bad attitude back then, so I moved around quite a bit between relatives,” Luis shared.
Eventually, Luis’ parents could no longer financially support him and a relative looked into the residential program at Methodist Children’s Home in 2017.
“I just really wanted to go to school at that point,” Luis said. “I was determined to make it at MCH, go to school and graduate. If not, I knew I wasn’t going to make it in life. I knew school would help open some doors for me.”
Luis gained more than a high school education at the University of Texas–University Charter School on the MCH Waco campus. His passion for fitness led to life-changing experiences in athletics. During his freshman year, Luis was a kicker for the MCH Bulldogs six-man football team that won a state championship. He also played basketball and ran track.
“As an athlete, I learned to be disciplined and consistent – that has helped me now as an adult,” Luis said.
After graduating from high school in 2020, Luis transitioned to the MCH Independent Living program (ILP), where residents are provided case management, financial assistance and other resources to adjust to college or the workforce.
“When I first met Luis, he was a go-getter,” said Ernestine Sample, Luis’ ILP home parent and later resident advisor. “He was full of ideas and goals. But he didn’t have the road map to get where he wanted to go.” With help, Luis learned to maintain a budget, set up appointments, keep up with schoolwork, and create a healthy work-life balance led by faith.
“I was never really into church when I was younger,” Luis said. “One of the other ILP residents, Johnnie, brought me to Jesus. He and Ms. Sample really led me to a relationship with God. My walk with Jesus has helped me change.”
“Luis is a totally different person now,” Sample said with a smile. “He plans everything and is putting the work behind his words. Luis is using the tools he has learned here at MCH to set the foundation for his next steps.”
Dustin Hughes, Luis’ case manager, said his growth has been phenomenal over the last several months.
“Luis is intentional about taking steps that will help him later in life and not just looking at how to get by from week to week,” Hughes said. “He knows what he wants and has dived in.”
Luis is working toward obtaining a real estate license in December. He is currently enrolled at McLennan Community College and will graduate with his associate’s degree in May 2024. He dreams of one day owning a real estate brokerage and having a family.
“I want a boy and a girl,” Luis said. “I want to be prepared so I can be a good father and provide for my family.”
Humbled by his experiences at MCH, Luis is grateful for those who continue to help him and for the lasting Christ-centered relationships he has found.
“I used to be really hard-headed and argumentative, so I’m blessed the ILP staff stuck with me,” Luis said. “I’m especially grateful for Ms. Sample because she helped me grow from a boy to a man. I owe a lot to her and will never be able to repay her.”
“It’s not even a hope for me, I know Luis is going to be successful in life,” Sample said. “He is going to be the best – hands down.”
“It feels like everything is coming together,” Luis said. “I’m at peace knowing that when I leave here, I will be prepared for the next step.”