He didn’t know where these glasses were going. He read the prescription of the lenses, wrote the power of the glasses on a white label, put them in the plastic bag, and sent them off to be given away somewhere in Guatemala, Mexico, or Nicaragua. Senior Cristian Gonzalez spent three to four hours doing this daily during the week, helping communities of people in completely different countries, all just to help them see.
“It made me feel good to be a part of something that would help other people be able to see,” said Gonzalez, who worked for I-Care International for almost four hours a week for about three months during the beginning of the school year.
He tutored other students and did three hours of his own homework every night, not missing a beat on his 4.22 GPA, awarding him the ability to graduate at the top 5 percent of the class of 2015 and attend UC Merced to become a Mechanical Engineer.
AVID teacher Jim Steaffens notices Gonzalez’s drive.
“He makes sure his classmates understand. During AVID tutorial, he will spend most of his time going over problems in detail and answering questions from his classmates,” said Steaffens, who taught Gonzalez in Algebra 2, AVID 11, and AVID 12. He was Steaffens’ top student in Algebra 2.
Gonzalez credits much of his success to his AVID class and Steaffens. He has learned how to manage his time, take great notes, and grow as a person–opening up to other students and creating lifetime friendships.
Gonzalez is a student that underclassmen can and should look up to.
“Cristian avoids stumbles. Whereas some students give lip service to doing the right thing, making the right choices, and getting things done, Cristian actually does it. He does not surround himself with crisis, drama, and negativity. His decisions are thought out and logical,” Steaffens said.
He admitted that Gonzalez is the perfect student. “Attentive, respectful, cooperative, easy-going, motivated, intelligent: Ask anyone who knows him and they will say the same thing,” he said.
Things have not always been so perfect for Gonzalez, however. His biggest struggle was not being as social as he could have been. Gonzalez went to class with the mentality of his schedule: take notes, listen, go home. He has since been able to overcome this, growing his circle of friendships.
Gonzalez will become a lead designer and come back to Paso to speak with new AVID students, according to Steaffens. He says that Gonzalez is the type of person who will always give back to the school and community, no matter what.
“My biggest advice [to underclassmen] would be to find the motivation to accomplish any goal they have, otherwise it becomes easy to not accomplish that goal,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s dad, the chef at Artisan, has given him the most support and advice throughout his high school career. He emphasized to Gonzalez, from a very young age, that education was the most important.
“He has always given me advice on anything that I go through. He is very logical, but we joke around a lot. My dad and I have a very good relationship,” Gonzalez said as a smile crept across his face.
As he steps on the podium to shake the hand of a black-gowned administrator at 5:30 on Friday, June 12, Gonzalez will be taking his skills, mind, and great reputation with him to bigger and better things—his roots still in Paso, but his future somewhere only Gonzalez knows.