have wonderful people at Project Heavy West, and I think I basically
tapped into every program they offer.”
sees buildings—lots of buildings—in his future. “I’ve
wanted to be an architect since the 11th grade,” he recalls.
“My dad was building his retirement home, in his home state
in Mexico, and it turned me on because the architect was really
good. I enjoyed seeing his plans and watching that home go up.”
Alfredo plans to transfer to Berkeley or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
to become an architect. “Basically, what I’d like to
do is work in the U.S. and invest in Mexico,” he says. “I’d
like to be involved in building a resort, a shopping center or
maybe try to build some affordable housing.” But of all the
buildings in his imagination, perhaps none loom as large as the
Mar Vista Gardens “project” he came to know as an SMC
Summer Intern working with Project Heavy West.
with ages three and a half to high school,” reports Alfredo.
“My duties ranged from being a friend to the little ones
to being a counselor to the older ones. I was also tutoring, playing
games, talking about drugs and gangs, and how kids can further
themselves by staying in school and helping their own community.
And just by seeing all these kids, I really got to appreciate
all the difficulties they’re going through.”
that grow up around gangs and drugs are not so easy to reach,”
says Alfredo. “But I told them, ‘Okay. You got in trouble
at school. But you’re not the only one. I did that myself
but I corrected that, and now I’m going in a whole new direction,
and it’s gotten me this far.’ But I never tried to pressure
them,” Alfredo continues. “I never told them that if
they don’t go to college, they’ll be a nobody. I just
said ‘Finish high school, go to a trade school, get yourself
a good job. But whatever you do, just make sure you’re good