Cecilio, 18, is in his final year of high school at the Complejo Educativo General Francisco Menéndez in El Espino. He lives at home with his father, a small farmer, his mother, a housewife, and his two younger brothers and sister. He rises very early in the morning to catch the 6am bus to school, which he has to walk a short distance to catch. He explains how he prefers this bus because “the other buses are so full of people that some are at risk of falling from the bus and getting hurt, and some people even travel on the rack on top.” The bus ride lasts 45 minutes, after which Cecilio must walk another 30 minutes to arrive at school. He is currently taking Math, Science, Social Studies, Seminar, Life Skills, Language and Physical Education. Classes begin at 7:30 and end at 5pm, and he arrives back at home around 6:30pm. He has a quick dinner before immediately beginning the day’s homework.

We asked Cecilio to answer a few questions to help you get to know him better. Below are his responses!

What are some of your professional aspirations?

I want to finish high school and then go to college to study law.

Why do you think your education is important?

My education is preparing me for life, helping me to achieve my goals and dream and with it, I’ll be able to help out my parents.

Describe someone who has inspired or motivated you:

A former computer teacher of mine, Jennifer Ventura Rubio, helped me with my English class and has always encouraged me to continue with my studies.

How has the crime/violence in this country affected you personally?

For my own safety, my parents tell me not to go out shopping and not to work on homework with classmates too far from home. They also don’t want me to go visit my grandparents by myself because the area where they live is dangerous for young people.

How do you think positive change can come about in your community or country?

Establishing more universities and a better educational system, implementing stricter laws and, most importantly, establishing training centers where people from all different social classes can come together.

Tell us about your community service project.

I’m working with a group of 7 other scholarship students on the Clean Water Project, doing follow-ups on the water filters [installed through the scholarship program] in our communities. We go door-to-door and clean them, check them over for damage, and follow up once every three months in four different communities. It’s important to me because, alongside my classmates, I’ve helped families be able to drink clean, healthy water.

What do you do in your free time?

I listen to music in English and read.

What is your favorite book or genre?

“La Masacre en el Mozote,” about the Salvadoran civil war and “Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina,” which is another history book.

What is your favorite music?

My favorite types of music are pop and disco.

What are your best qualities?

I prefer to avoid problems, I like knowing about and understanding other people, I’m able to recognize and overcome my mistakes, and I like helping other people.

What is something surprising about you that only a few people know?

I rarely visit with my [extended] family because they live in a really dangerous area.