Jorge Campos knows how life can sometimes get you down, but he hasn’t let anything get in the way of saving his family from financial trouble, excelling in high school, and going to Harvard in the fall.
When Campos was 13 years old, his father lost his job as an auto technician. His family of six was evicted, and for three months, they stayed with family, at hotels, and even at times slept in a van. Campos was about to start high school, and he said it was “incredibly difficult.”
“There was always this idea of where would we spend the night,” he said.
The experience made him start thinking about everything his parents had to deal with in life, and he began to wonder if he could do something about it. “It was a moment of clarity that I realized that I had to take a lot more responsibility,” he said.
“I had to carry a little bit of the burden that my parents are carrying as well.”
Campos began doing research on the internet, reading magazines and books, and enrolled in community college classes. “I was introduced to the world of finance,” he said. At that point he had found his life’s passion.
He said his parents were a little hesitant at first, but apparently they soon realized he knew what he was doing, because he eventually took over all of the family’s finances.
“That translated to the next few years, building credit scores, applying for credit cards, getting loans, and getting a new car, culminating in buying our home two years ago,” he said.
They went from homeless to homeowners in two years.
However, their new home was in Palmdale, and the high school Campos had been attending was Manual Arts in South Los Angeles. The family decided he would keep going to that same high school, meaning he had to get up at 4:30am and travel 140 miles each day by car, train, and bus to get to school and back home again.
That year, Campos said he finally realized he might have a chance to go to his dream university—Harvard—to study economics. He enrolled in more college courses, joined college outreach programs, and got near-perfect grades and test scores, and he was finally accepted into Harvard.
“I had to work just a little bit harder to get where I am than most of my peers. But it’s always the idea that you can’t just let life pass you by and accept the circumstances,” he said.
Campos has scholarships that will cover all of his tuition and housing.
He has also started a GoFundMe page to help him with books and other expenses.
With everything Campos has accomplished, he is definitely worthy of giving a few words of wisdom to anyone who may be going through some tough times.
“Just make sure that you know why you’re getting up every day, so you have a finish line and an end goal,” he said.
Campos said now his younger sister and brother often run around the house in college T-shirts, and it makes him proud.
“Right now, it doesn’t mean a lot to them, but I’m already seeing that there’s a college-going culture and atmosphere at home, so that my little siblings, they know that that happens after high school. You pursue a higher education, and you continue to try to accomplish your dreams.”
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Main photo credit: Facebook/L.A. Promise