Ánimo Leadership is located in the City of Inglewood in South West Los Angeles. Ánimo’s mission is to prepare students for college, leadership, and life through innovative instruction, a rigorous curriculum, and the use of cutting-edge technology. From the over 600 enrolled students, 97% are Hispanic, 95% are socioeconomically disadvantaged and 95% of them are in receipt of Free or Reduced Price Lunches. Nevertheless, of the results from the 2012 California High School Exit Exams, 94% passed English and 97% passed Math. At Ánimo Leadership, students are required to take the SAT exam and applying for college is a homework assignment. The school provides after school programming and athletics geared towards motivating students to engage in positive activities. Through its afterschool programming the school serves approximately 114 students with nearly 50% of students participating in activities three times a week. Through its sports teams, the school has won CIF Division titles and has excelled in both boys and girls athletics. Parents are also actively engaged at the school. There is a strong parent organization that meets regularly to discuss student achievement, the budget and any other concerns they may have. Some parents participate in an organizing institute aimed at empowering them to improve their community and in parent workshops that educate parents about how to talk to school counselors, how to best support their student and how to ensure their student is on track to go to college.
Teresa Carreto is the Career and College Advisor at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles. Terry and her husband both graduated from Roosevelt High and decided to move back to Boyle Heights to give back to the communities where they grew up. Teresa is a 22-year veteran at Roosevelt High where she has been a teacher, mentor and a mother to thousands of students. As the Career and College Advisor, it is her job to ensure that every graduating senior is headed to college or a technical school. Through her efforts, the school has given away over $500,000 in scholarships and she single-handedly encouraged a noted philanthropist and Roosevelt High alumni to endow a Fulbright Scholarship at the school. Teresa also founded the “Dreams Come True” fundraiser at the school, which raises money to ensure all graduating seniors can afford the $85 cap and gown fee. Terry can always be found in her office making sure every student has the best opportunity. Terry says she works for the kids because they all deserve a chance to better themselves and their lives and perhaps return someday to mentor future Roosevelt High students.
Terry was born in Tijuana and was brought to the U.S. at the age of 3 by her immigrant parents who settled the family of 9 kids in Boyle Heights. She went to Malabar Elementary in Boyle Heights and Hollenbeck Middle School. Every member of Terry’s family went to Roosevelt High School. Her parents were adamant that they brought their children to the U.S. to succeed through education. Terry attended Cal State LA and graduated with a degree in Kinesiology. She went to college on a basketball scholarship and wanted to become a coach but she found that she loved teaching business to troubled girls at Ramona High School, her very first job. Soon thereafter, she joined the teaching staff at Roosevelt High School where she has been the students’ champion for 22 years!
Terry’s family faced hardships. Her father taught her: “Don’t complain, come up with a solution,” a tenet she continues to follow and teach her two boys today. Terry is married to a fireman and has two boys, Joshua, 21, who studies Economics at UC Irvine and Joel, 19, who studies Mechanical Engineering at UC Merced. Joel’s father recently suffered an injury on the job. Now, Joel wants to design safety equipment to prevent harm to fire fighters on the job.
Lorena Aguilar was born in Mexico and grew up in Southern California. She is a self-employed dental consultant, who has worked as a dental front office manager, dedicating more than twenty years to this field. Lorena and her siblings were instilled with a strong sense of upward mobility and education by her working class immigrant parents and she has passed on those strong values to her two daughters whom she has raised as a single mother, with the help of her closely-knit family. Lorena studied business administration at Cerritos College and continued her business studies at Nevada State College. In supporting her desire for her children to succeed academically, Lorena took it upon herself to learn everything about the college application and admissions process, which greatly contributed to her children pursuing their university degrees. Thanks in part to this dedication, her oldest daughter Nadine has a Master’s in Education and her younger daughter Justine Loren studies Sociology and Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside. In addition to her passion for supporting her children's studies, Lorena is active in the Murrieta/Temecula community serving as a board member and President of Precious Little Butterflies, a non-profit organization that helps children in shelters, group and foster homes, who are victims of domestic violence.
Lorena was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. with her family when she was just one year's old. Her family were the only Latinos that lived on her street in her neighborhood in Whittier, and Lorena endured daily teasing from the neighborhood's children for speaking Spanish with her parents. Lorena’s parents taught their five children that education and hard work could earn them their own American Dream. Lorena's father worked on the assembly line packing camping equipment and her mother worked as a seamstress. Lorena’s older sister Blanca, was the first in the family to go to college. Her older sister set the precedent of higher education, which inspired the rest of her siblings to follow in her footsteps, and when she moved to Las Vegas to attend school, the entire family followed. Lorena is a strong supporter of learning and hard work, she has instilled these values in her children from a young age and this has enabled her to bring up two wonderful young ladies as a single mother. She has contributed her own success as well as the success of her children, to these core values along with the support of her family.
Barbie Aguilar is a 17-year old senior at Redondo Union High School. She was born in Los Angeles and grew up going to her parents’ homeland of Peru for summer vacations. The experiences gave her la ove for Peru and its resilient people and helped her gain a sense of how fortunate she was to live in the United States and. Her dream is to attend college, become and architect and move to Peru for a year to build homes for needy families. Barbie maintains a 3.5 GPA and is active in school clubs such as the Cervantes Spanish Honors Society Club, the Animal Club, where she volunteers at pet adoption centers and her beloved Salsa Club. Barbie credits Salsa dancing with helping her blossom and gain self-confidence. She advises her peers to do their best and set high goals in everything they do.
Barbie’s goals exist due to her pride and passion for being a Latina and the culture and heritage passed on by her Peruvian parents. This passion is evident in Barbie’s love for Salsa dancing and excitement as she made her school’s Salsa Team. She has since grown in skill and confidence forming her own dance group, Simply Beautiful, with a group of friends, performing on stage and winning dance competitions. And through the rigors of dance practice and competition, Barbie still sets high goals for herself to get high marks in her AP courses. Not only did she accomplish her academic goals, but Barbie’s dance group Simply Beautiful was also a big success in the Dance Showcase. Barbie now knows then that she can overcome any challenge with hope, determination and faith.
The son of Mexican immigrants, Ariel Salazar learned the values of hard work and dedication from an early age. A senior at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, Ariel maintains a 3.75 GPA, while he makes plans to attend UCLA. Coming from a low-income family has made Ariel work harder for himself, his family and his people. He started doing volunteer works in his early teens and continues to regularly volunteer at his church, local community club, Salvation Army and other organizations.
As a Latino, Ariel has seen his share of hardships and has heard the comments of people who have doubted his abilities because he’s Hispanic. Those experiences have only served to propel him to strive harder for success in order to prove his commitment to pursuing his higher education goals and to give back to his community. When he was in eighth grade, Ariel ran a 5K marathon to benefit finding a cure for cancer and received unforgettable words of encouragement from an adult, which have stayed with him: “Son, what you have done is something many of your age would not do. You should feel very proud of yourself.” These words ignited in Ariel an even stronger desire to better himself so that he can offer more to his family and community.
Although his life has been filled with obstacles, Ariel has not let struggle get in the way of pursuing his dreams and following his plan. His greatest accomplishment has been to realize that opening up to others and sharing his private pain has helped to heal him and solve his problems. After seeing his grades falter due to his preoccupation with his father’s illness, it was his father’s words that got Ariel back on track to make “make lemonade” from his troubles. He opened up to his English teacher who agreed to give Ariel extra credit to write a paper about how about he dealt with his family issues, earning him an A in the class.
Oscar Ayon is President / Co-founder of Unidos Por La Música, a non-profit with a mission is to provide University Scholarships, Medical Grants and Huger Relief efforts by creating musical charitable events to benefit those in need. At the young age of 30, Oscar has impacted thousands of families through his community outreach program “Bags of Hope” which provides bags of groceries to needy families. Last year this program fed 66,000 children and adults thru all the Inland Empire. He also awarded the first medical grant of $2,000 to a local single mother who was facing a critical medical condition preventing her from providing for her three beautiful daughters. Through his community outreach program Knowledge is Power, Mr. Ayon speaks frequently to school young kids and teenagers about his experiences growing up with little or no opportunities and how he overcame obstacles to build a successful life and career. He was recently invited through the Inland Empire United Way Scholars Promise to mentor various classrooms within the Ontario - Montclair Schools District about career opportunities. Oscars main goal is to empower students to be all they want to be in life and to share his formula of success; Knowing what you want, Focus, and Perseverance.
His passion for helping others is a reflection of his very own struggles in life. Oscar has a brother who was involved in a very severe hit and run car accident. Oscar knows how it feels when every door is closed leaving him and his family hopeless. Oscar is first in his family attending a University and, despite every obstacle, Oscar put himself through University having to work three jobs at times to pay for his own studies. Because of these struggles he can relate to every Dream Act Student who strives for a better future.
Oscar Ayon was born on August 25, 1982 in a small town in Jalisco "Colonia Portillo Lopez". His father passed away when he was only 11 years of age. He is the youngest of nine children. Oscar migrated with his family to the USA in 1994.
Oscar Ayon’s background career includes;
• Promotions Manager at the #1 latin Radio Station Super Estrella 107.1FM
• Marketing Manager for The Sixth House Inc.
• He has collaborated and worked with various international super stars; Christian Chavez, Anahi, Sofia Vergara, Lucia Mendez, Ninel Conde, among others.
Oscar Ayon earned his Bachelors degree at California State University Los Angeles in 2005 and earned his Master of Business Administration at the University of Phoenix in 2011.