For Los Angeles teen Perla Gutierrez, a trip with her classmates to visit Harvard was not just her first time visiting the East Coast. It was her first time in an airplane.
She and three classmates from Boyle Heights’ Roosevelt High School head there, in a video series put together by Politik Media, to explore the campus and consider a path most of her peers don’t take after high school: pursuing a college degree at an Ivy League university. As their teacher says in the videos, many high school graduates from the neighborhood don’t go on to college, and even Roosevelt students with strong academics tend to head straight to a community college or a state university nearby to stay close to home.
But on their trip to Harvard they meet a fellow Boyle Heights kid who made it to Harvard, and they get to step outside their close-knit communities for a second. It’s a lovely look at a moment in these young people’s lives when the future is an exciting, mysterious expanse before them.
But be sure to start at the beginning of the series (at the top of the page) when Gutierrez and her classmates introduce their neighborhood of Boyle Heights, an immigrant community on the east side of Los Angeles, where all of their stories begin. They talk about their beloved community and their courageous families who immigrated to the country to give them better opportunities.
“It’s not the best neighborhood to live in, but I mean, you can’t complain,” says Gutierrez, of the Boyle Heights. “Everyone’s welcoming. Everyone’s there for you.”
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