By Felipe Guillen
Going home for one night helped recharge my batteries.
Unlike some of my friends who live in the Bay Area, I don’t have the luxury of going home during the quarter. When Jharrett Bryantt from the College Readiness Dept. asked me if I wanted to come home and give a speech at HISD’s State of the Schools, I was excited. “First let me talk to my professors,” I told him. They said it was okay, and I am really glad I got to go.
When I got home, one of my nephews screamed “Junior!” and ran toward me and hugged my knees. I kissed and hugged my parents, my siblings, my niece, and my other nephews. It felt great to see them again. Then I settled down and went into the kitchen.
I was so happy to have a meal home-cooked by my mom. She made mole (shredded chicken in a spicy red sauce) and arroz entomatado (what some people know as Spanish rice), and oh boy, did I devour that food! My mom is such an amazing cook. In my book, she’s the best, but there are other people who can attest to that fact. She also makes great tamales.
That night, I had chicken wings from BreWingZ Sports Bar & Grill. In all of northern California, there aren’t any BreWingZ. The closest chicken-wing establishment is Wingstop, and it’s more than 20 minutes away from campus. I was more than happy to have chicken wings from my favorite place.
As you can see, food is very important to me.
In regards to State of the Schools, I did not expect it to be such a big deal. When I arrived at the airport, HISD’s Sarah Greer-Osborne picked me up and took me to the HISD administrative building to prepare for the event. On the way, we chatted about my college life, and then she explained the logistics of the luncheon. I’m not going to lie – I was shocked and nervous when I found out that 2,000 people would be there! But I didn’t let these feelings get the best of me. I crafted my speech, revised it, and practiced giving it.
The day of the event, I was well-rested. I had slept for more than eight hours so that I would have energy for the busy day. I arrived at Hilton Americas downtown early so that I could practice one last time. After I finished, I went into the lobby to look for some people from Chávez. I got to see my AP art history teacher Mr. Shah. It was great talking seeing a familiar face and getting to catch up.
Eventually, it was my turn to go up to the podium and give my speech. As I spoke, I heard the crowd cheer. I remember seeing my mother tear up, but that is as much as I recall. The intense emotions I was feeling sort of blurred everything.
I definitely wasn’t prepared for what happened next. I was asked to do interviews, and people kept coming up to congratulate me. I felt a bit overwhelmed, because there were so many people. Some offered me help, and there were even some Stanford alumni. I kept thinking of all the other people in EMERGE with the same story as me, and I wanted to say that I am only one of many. Don’t get me wrong – I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. It’s simply that I don’t want or deserve all of the attention.