Essay by Scholarship Recipient Alex Rodriquez: 
Question: In what way has living and growing up in South Los Angeles impacted your life?

The smell of steak tacos, the small breeze of air pollution that flows into my little window in my apartment, and the sound of screeching car tires just before they get into an accident, is what makes my community, mine. The term ‘community’ in my terms, is the place where I commute with people, and who better to describe than those who I interact with daily, my neighbors. My community of neighbors have been with me since birth. They have seen me grow like a mustard seed, but have also seen my flaws. I moved into my small apartment when I was just three years young, and since then, I have evolved into a knowledge seeking seed in who grew to love the negatives around him. I grew to understand that God is imperfect, and every little thing around me has helped me shaped the person I am today. I love the fact that there is homeless people around me, because over the span of seventeen years, I have built a relationship with every single one of them. I learned, through those relationships, that mistakes are easy to make, but it is how one reacts to those mistakes, which molds a person’s dignity. I love the fact that my bedroom window is next to a major road because I feel it has shaped me to be a patient, yet productive person in academics and sports. I love the fact that I live in a one bedroom apartment, with five other people, because I learned a valuable principle of respect. I love the fact that although I live in a “ghetto” area, God did not cease me to His limitations and let me explore the city and around the nation.

My adaptations in my home, and in my community, will always stick with me. I

remember a gloomy Tuesday night where my family and I returned home, from a prayer service, and were bestowed an image that will forever be life-changing. I saw a swarm of police cars, but directly in front of my window that blows smog and the fresh breeze into my bedroom, was a dead man. From that day onward, I grew not just as a person, but as a member in my community. I learned that although we all share different house numbers, will all live under the same spectrum of love. We all share the same Postal Code. We all the share that same beloved, yet cursed, street of Century Boulevard, that formed love with one another, until we are six feet underground. My community is those of Blacks, Mexicans, homeless, stray animals, and loud engines. We wake up at six o’clock in morning to work for our families. We are those who wish to be more than an our ancestors. We always have room for improvement, and we improve by working harder than ever before. We are those from the 90044.

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