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Staying on the Path Toward College Interactive Case: Meet Alberto and Sarita Domínguez, Parents of Paulo     

“At the same time that we want Paulo to succeed in school, I’m afraid we’re not able to help him. I don’t like to go to the school much. [Paulo’s] on el buen camino de la vida [the good path of life] now, but some of his friends, I think, are making it hard for him to stay on it.”


Alberto Domínguez, Paulo’s father, spent his childhood in Mexico and completed an ele­mentary education at a primaria (elementary school) in a rural village where there was no middle or high school. When he moved to a nearby town in an adjacent state to find better work, he met his future wife, Sarita. After Sarita and Alberto were married, they decided to make the trip to California to find work and give their children an education and a better start in life. Sarita started working in a factory on an assembly line while Alberto worked in the fields picking strawberries. Sarita took English classes at night until she became pregnant with their first child, Raul. She attended other classes in Spanish, including birthing and child care. Since then she has had three other children and continues to work part time in the factory.

Sarita:
“I’m quite concerned about Paulo. His father and I want him to be safe, both physically and emotionally, and we want him to have an equal chance to learn and succeed. But lately, I see him being less with the family and more with his friends. I know this is a time for him that’s difficult. He’s getting older, and relationships and friendships get harder, but I want to help him make the right decisions so we can guide him to college and to stay on the good path. I don’t want him to get into drugs or a gang, or get a girl pregnant.”

“But I do worry. At the same time that we want Paulo to succeed in school, I’m afraid we’re not able to help him. I don’t like to go to the school much. Raul, my oldest son, dropped out of school a few months ago, but when he first started having trouble, I got a call from one of his teachers. They called me to go there. I was very scared because I was unfamiliar with the system and the language. No one spoke my language except for the principal and one other teacher who translated for Raul’s teacher. I asked them both about the problem involving my son, and the principal and the teacher weren’t very helpful. I just felt like they wanted me to leave.”

 “And I see Paulo on el buen camino de la vida [the good path of life] now, but some of his friends, I think, are making it hard for him to stay on it. I know that his father and I can’t always help with his school learning. I still don’t feel comfortable going to the school like I probably should. Already, he has more education than me and his father. I’m worried about him.”

Alberto:
“Any type of job is acceptable for my son, as long as it isn’t in the fields. When I was very young, I started to pick vegetables on the rancho, and I wouldn’t want him to do that. Right now, Paulo is a very serious and good boy. I would like for Paulo to get to college, but the way things are now, who knows? We don’t have much money to send him to school. I know that college is not the only definition of success in life, but I look at our lives in the factories, fields, hotel kitchens—and we want our son to be a doctor, teacher, lawyer. Or even one who works with computers and makes those games that he plays. I’d like him to live well. Really, that is the dream that one always has, that one’s children succeed, that they are better off. That they do the things one was not able to do.”

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image of Paulo, sixth grader image of Paulo's parents
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image of Paulo;s math teacher image of college student and family friend of Paulo image of community college outreach program director small image of a data table image of 6 characters in this teaching case
Paulo, sixth grader
Paulo’s parents Up Next -> Math teacher College student and family friend Community college outreach program director Supporting data Piecing it all together

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