A Class of 2011 Holland High School graduate, Teo studied at Grand Rapids Community College before earning his degree in Exercise Science from Hope College.
After graduating from Hope he was hired by Holland’s Elzinga & Volkers, Inc. and has been able to travel and explore the United States through his work.
Teo is the youngest of four children whose parents, Mexican citizens, were working in Los Angeles at the time of his birth. When he was three years old, Teo’s family returned to their hometown. But when it came time for him to enter high school in Mexico, Teo’s family encouraged him to take advantage of the opportunities his American citizenship offered. He returned alone to the U.S. at 15 and began attending Holland High School.
For the first two years, Teo lived with a cousin of his father who owned a small store in the Holland area. Then, during his junior and senior years he rented a small apartment where he lived on his own, working to support himself, attending school and, whenever possible, playing soccer!
It was through soccer tournaments offered at the Boys and Girls Club that Teo discovered what a support that organization could be for him as he pursued his dream of a high school diploma. There was tutoring support at the Boys and Girls Club and supportive mentors who encouraged Teo to dream even beyond high school, to think perhaps of college. Teo didn’t think so. He had never aspired to a college education. All he wanted was a good job after graduation. However, when he found the only jobs available to him with a high school degree were in the blueberry fields, Teo dared to dream of more.
Still living on his own and supporting himself, Teo attended Grand Rapids Community College picking up the college preparatory classes he needed as well as helpful ESL classes (English as a Second Language).
He also managed to find time to “give back” volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club for two years after graduating from high school, working with the young middle school children for whom he had become a role model.
John Berry, an Upward Bound mentor, had this to say about Teo:
“Teo is one of the finest young men I’ve had the opportunity to know and mentor. He is dedicated to his future, stays focused on doing the right things, is considerate, dependable, trustworthy, hard working and a delight to be with. He has demonstrated his ability to overcome challenges and now sees the many opportunities before him. College is a dream he didn’t dare have. It’s exciting to see such a dream come true.”
Teo’s words of advice for high school students:
“Never give up. Persevere. Work hard. And you can follow your dreams!”
To learn more about the Holland/Zeeland Promise Scholarship, visit www.cfhz.org/hzpromise