June 13, 2014

‘I felt I lost everything’

Meet Oscar Chavez of Anaheim, Calif. Oscar is the first in his family to attend a four-year college and will begin at Wabash College, where he plans to major in biomedical engineering, in the fall.

“One of the greatest challenges I faced as a child was losing my home. I felt I lost everything,” Chavez said. “My parents got divorced when I was 10 years old, and then we started losing everything. There were nights I couldn’t sleep because I could hear my mom sobbing through the vents.

“I grew so worried about the bills being paid that I started thinking of new ways to get money instead of focusing on my schoolwork, and as a result, I started falling behind in class. I told my mother that I wanted to get a job to help.” 

Chavez, his siblings and his mother started to look through dumpsters for clothes, appliances and toys to sell at yard sales. His mother picked up a job cleaning homes, but despite these efforts, the Chavez family lost its home three months later. 

“I was completely scared and desperate for a solution. We had to move into my aunt’s apartment, and I remember feeling embarrassed as I walked into the apartment with my arms filled with luggage,” Chavez said. “I tried to support our family as much as possible. I would walk around the streets for hours, collect every coin I saw and give it to my mom.” 

Shortly after, Chavez’s mother found a job, and the family now rents its old home. 

“In that one year of suffering and being homeless, I witnessed the reality of the real world. I learned that in order to achieve in life, I must work long and hard. I want to contribute something to families, build them shelter and safety, a place they can call home.” 

Oscar is one of 17 first-generation students that will attend college with the assistance of the Earl Woods Scholarship Program. We are pleased to welcome five students from Boston, 10 from Orange County, Calif., and two students from New York as our class of 2018. To date, 100 percent of our scholars reach graduation day and go on to successful careers.