Christian Rosales understood that education was power at a very young age.
With his family, he immigrated to the United States as a toddler. His mother left her career as a doctor and his father became a janitor at Stanford University to support a dream of educational opportunity for their children.
“It’s really inspiring,” he said of his parents.
Rosales, the youngest of the five kids, was taken under the wing of his older brother who taught him soccer. Spending his younger years in East Palo Alto, Rosales decided to focus on academics and sports from a young age. Now, the teen who turns 18 today is preparing to graduate Eastside College Preparatory School with plans to attend the University of California at Los Angeles. Rosales hopes to become the type of teacher who inspired him to excel.
“Christian is a kind-hearted, respectful, diligent, charismatic leader. He has aspirations of becoming a high school principal some day; he will make an incredible school leader, as he is already a leader among his peers this year,” said computer science teacher Ryan Atkins, adding that Rosales is highly respected by both students and staff.
Rosales pointed to an eighth grade teacher at Garfield, which was a charter school at the time, who really inspired him. He was the kind of teacher who could help straighten out students involved in gangs and drugs. Rosales noted students going down the wrong path were set straight in that class, by that teacher. Spending many years of his youth surrounded by that kind of negativity and violence, Rosales likes the idea of making an impact.
He doesn’t remember the switch from Mexico to the United States — Rosales was only 2. However, he has returned to Mexico multiple times to play soccer. Soccer’s been a focus for Rosales since starting at 5. His brother would help him with drills. Soccer helped Rosales find confidence. He began playing for a traveling team at 7. Since then, Rosales even auditioned for semi-pro teams and made the cut, but decided to stay with education rather than leaving school early.
Prior to entering Eastside, Rosales’ parents worked to cover the costs of moving to Menlo Park. So, when their youngest son came forward with a plan to transfer from high school to a school in East Palo Alto — the place from where they had worked hard to move — there were concerns.
The change has been a positive one for Rosales who found a new home for himself at Eastside. He joined cross country to strengthen his endurance and continued to play soccer but for a club team. Rosales said the experience has helped him master time management. He used school tutorial time to keep up with his studies. From the start, Rosales excelled at soccer on campus becoming a leader who others admired — a further confidence boost for the teen.
And, although it may not seem as though he’d have time, Rosales made time for other activities like tutoring and coaching community kids in soccer.
Eastside’s graduation will be held 5 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at the school quad, 1041 Myrtle St., East Palo Alto. Tickets are not required.
Great Grads is in its eighth year profiling one graduating senior from each of our local schools. Schools have the option to participate. Those that choose to participate are asked to nominate one student who deserves recognition.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105.