This is the 4th post in a series. For my previous post, click here. This post focuses on my time away from the Central Valley while i attended college and my evolving outlook towards my place in the Latino community.
Walking Through Ivory
Before i left for college, my father passed away. It was in the summer before the start of my senior year at Redwood High when he finally succumbed to liver cancer. My father left a large imprint on my life, especially on my views of who I am in relation to being Latino and I still wish today that he had lived long enough to hear me come out as a gay young man . My father grew up on a farm outside of Visalia and hated it. He left home to pursue a career that made him equally a target to the more fundamental characteristics of local Mexicans. But he beleived that he didn’t have to be anything for anyone except himself and his family. Perhaps it was something that he developed later on in life; further along than the stage of life i am in now. But perhaps it too began in college and at one of the same universities I would soon enter.
Redwood High, has about 2,000 students every year and more than half of that population is Latino. Unfortunately, district wide, Visalia has a 1/3 drop-out rate in grades 9-12. In my high school class a lot of those who made it to graduation did initially take off to college. A good number of them attend the local community college: College of the Sequoias. I haven’t found any data on this specifically but anecdotally, a good number of those students who leave for college usually return to Visalia before completing a 4-year degree. Many of those who do leave home attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO). The joke around most high school campuses in Visalia is that SLO is a lot like Visalia except near water. I did not attend SLO.