His Family Was Homeless When He Started High School, Now He Is Going To Harvard
Meet Jorge Campos, a student from South Los Angeles who was recently accepted to Harvard.
Not only did Campos get accepted to one of the most prestigious universities in the country, he also helped pull his parents out of a dire financial situation. Campos and his family fell on hard times just after his middle school graduation (pictured above) and were evicted from their home. They bounced from hotels and motels to relatives’ homes and, on some nights, they slept in their van. This prompted Campos to start learning about the financial system to help his family pull themselves out of their situation and better their lives.
Campos spoke with mitú about his successes, his future plans and how his family survived when they were struggling financially.
“We were coming from a very difficult financial background and I was forced to mature and really, it was around this time of coming into ninth grade that genuine curiosity for learning and education sort of blossomed,” Campos told mitú. “I started reading different articles online and reading about FICO Scores and interest rates and banking structures.”
Not only did he study and put in the time to make his dream come true, Campos also became the financial manager for his family during the time they were homeless.
“It was this whole series of skills that I had to pick up so I could start budgeting my parents’ accounts. I was able to start managing the money that was coming in while making sure that they were paying on time and making sure that accounts were left current,” Campos told mitú. “It means that I was spending a lot of time on the phone with bankers and on the phone with different companies asking and negotiating how our family was going to move forward.”
Due to Campos’ guidance, the family was able to purchase a home in Palmdale, Calif. during his junior year.
Yet, with the family settling in in Palmdale, Campos decided that he was not ready to leave his school, Manual Arts High School in South L.A.
Rather than abandoning all of the connections he had made at Manual Arts High, he found a way to make the 140-mile round trip to his high school every day.
“I spoke with my parents and had the long talk. My dad’s work is about half the distance from here. He works in the valley from where I live, so he’ll drive me about an hour and 15 minutes. Then I’ll get a train, then the bus to get to school every morning,” Campos explained to mitú about his daily commute to school. “It means that I have to be up by about 4:45 in the morning and I won’t get home until about 9 o’clock every day but at least I can now look back and say that it was worth it.”
Campos’ fascination with finance has inspired him to study economics at Harvard University.
Campos and his family are very happy with his acceptance to Harvard but Campos says he was always determined to make sure he wasn’t accepted based on his circumstances. Campos told mitú that he knew from the beginning that if he wanted to make it to Harvard, he would have to work twice as hard as someone in a better school. He also spent time preparing for the ACT and SAT to make sure that he was nationally competitive with other students.
After graduation, he plans on returning to L.A. to help families like his.
“I’ve always been fascinated with city infrastructure, so I plan to study economics at Harvard and I plan to pursue public policy as a master’s program,” Campos told mitú. “As a career, I want to jump into local government and pursue fiscal policy to address these same differences that a family like mine was transitioning into.”
Campos says his parents’ work ethic has inspired him to always push through, no matter how difficult things become.
“It’s a dedication and a work ethic like no other and I’ve learned that I can be going through the worst of situations because I’ve gone through the worst of situations and they’re still trying to move forward,” Campos told mitú. “There’s never been a time when my parents have given up or just completely stopped because they felt it was too much. There was never a moment when they felt completely helpless because there was always an opportunity to take responsibility, an opportunity to make sure that moving forward you put the time and the work in to accomplish whatever you want to accomplish.”
Way to go, Jorge.
Best of luck on your journey through Harvard.