Education is an important topic in the mayoral and city council races this year. I am supporting Linea Palmisano in Ward 13 because of her work on education — long before she decided to run for City Council.
Before I met Linea I was a student at Southwest High School. My parents brought me to this country when I was three years old in the hope for a better life and a better future.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to SW High School I had no prospects for an education beyond high school, and thus I didn’t see any opportunities for a better future. My two parents work three full time jobs, between them and didn’t know how to navigate the educational system and did not know how to help me. I was trapped, with no way to progress forward.
Then I met Linea. She asked me a question that no one had ever thought to ask me before. Do you want to go to college? My answer was yes. But it didn’t end with a conversation. She continued to guide me through the complex process of getting into college and the seemingly impossible task of figuring out a way to pay for higher education (a task that is difficult whether you are an immigrant or not).
It didn’t just end with me. Linea went on to start NAVIGATE, with other students like me. So that other immigrant students like me could have the opportunity to obtain a higher education. This successful program has grown to a state-wide organization with hundreds of students served.
Linea has worked on education issues with the Citizen League Higher Education Study committee and with State Rep. Carlos Mariani. She has also been a volunteer assistant running coach and worked in leadership development at Southwest High School.
I will never fully understand why Linea took an interest in me, but I can safely say that without her guidance and belief I would not have gone to or graduated from college. And without NAVIGATE hundreds of others would not be in college pursuing their dreams today.