From El Salvador to Stanford
Here at Educational Connections, we’ve been blessed to be a part of the lives of some truly incredible students over the past 14 years. We’ve taught children with disabilities how to read, helped young adults get into colleges they had never dreamed of, and inspired countless students to realize their full academic potential. Every once in a while, a student comes along who teaches us more than we teach him. This week’s success profile is on EC student Charlie Rosas, who went from not knowing a single word of English to turning down Harvard.
The Rosas family immigrated to the United States from El Salvador. Charlie was born in Los Angeles, and was raised in an entirely Spanish speaking community. “When we moved away to Virginia, I was determined to learn English,” says Charlie. “My family had a lot of paperwork to do, and I wanted more than anything to help them… There’s a funny picture of me at age eight trying to help my aunt fill out a job application.” To help Charlie with his English, the Rosas family turned to Educational Connections. Charlie was tutored personally by EC president Ann Dolin, who volunteered for the position free of charge. “After my tutoring with EC, I was reading on a 5th grade level in the 2nd grade. Ann has always been a big influence for me. She’s been in touch ever since… I never thought I’d make it this far.”
Charlie’s new-found skills proved invaluable a few years later when his family’s home was foreclosed upon. With his father working two jobs as a cook and a maintenance worker – on four hours of sleep – and his mother working full time as a nanny, Charlie took it upon himself to investigate their legal options. Charlie took on the role of the family attorney and steered them through the grueling legal process. Although the Rosas ultimately lost their home, Charlie proved himself to be an endless well of hard work, encouragement, and determination. Little did he know, the next test would far surpass the last.
Shortly after, tragedy struck again as Charlie’s mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Charlie sprung into action, working with doctors and insurance companies to ensure his mother the best care possible. Charlie navigated the diagnostic and treatment process for his family when others would have lost hope. He did everything in his power to help his family – from relentlessly tracking down doctors for second opinions to filling out mountains of paperwork. His courage and confidence is truly humbling. With some help from a connection through EC, Charlie was able to get in touch with one of the best reconstructive surgeons in the DC area, who took on Charlie’s mother as a patient even though he was at capacity.
Somehow, in spite of all this, Charlie was able to maintain a rigorous high school schedule, taking as many AP classes as possible and maintaining a 4.4 GPA. Educational Connections was able to help Charlie and his sister, who has a significant learning disability, with scholarships and college placement – free of charge. “I can’t tell you how much that motivated her. It meant so much to us,” says Charlie. Despite getting into Harvard, Charlie turned it down for a full ride at Stanford, where he is currently studying political science.
Clearly, here at Educational Connections we only had a minor part to play in Charlie’s story, but he is effusive in his praise nonetheless. “I would recommend EC to anyone. They helped me address exactly what my issues were. Once they were resolved everything became faster and easier… Tutoring helped me believe in myself. It gave me skills that I definitely needed down the road. I can’t thank EC enough.” It is both humbling and inspiring to work with students like Charlie, and an honor to be a part of his life here at Educational Connections.