Student Stories



Jose Morales didn’t grow up in a “Leave It To Beaver” family, but he had it better than most in his neighborhood. He was loved and his parents made enough money to give their six kids what they needed. “My older brothers and sisters were good role models too, but I didn’t always follow their examples,” he admitted.

As a youngster, life was pretty simple. Jose studied hard and had lots of friends. In middle school, Jose started to lose interest in school. Classes were boring and overcrowded. Freshman year Jose heard Houston Can Academy had an accelerated program. Since he wanted to get through school as soon as he could, he decided to give it a try. Jose liked everything about the school, but he missed his friends and it took longer to get to Houston Can Academy. So, after a year and a half, Jose’s parents let him transfer back. That was a big mistake!

Back in public school, Jose was exposed to alcohol. He started to sober up when he saw his friends getting savagely beaten up in street fights. It wasn’t until his older brother got shot that he started thinking twice about his life. As if his brother’s death wasn’t tragic enough, he was shot by one of his own brothers and left a young son, Miguel, behind. Jose felt as though he should have been able to stop it. Shortly thereafter, he decided to go back to Houston Can Academy, so he wouldn’t be reminded daily of this traumatic event.

“When I returned to Houston Can Academy, I wondered why I ever left this place. Teachers paid attention to me and I loved what I was learning,” he said. Jose’s favorite class was history. He loved learning about how the world ran especially in the days of the ancient Greeks and he liked discovering the similarities and differences in religions. “Teachers at the public school didn’t add any personality to what they were teaching and they certainly didn’t make it exciting,” Jose commented. Jose’s advisor only wants the best for him. He got him to return to school after he dropped out. He understands the demons Jose faces daily.

Not a day goes by that Jose doesn’t think about his brother. He said emphatically, “I’m telling you this because it’s important for people to know that even though I went through a very hard time, I’m still coming to school to have a better life.” Jose’s brother would be so proud of him. He’s setting a good example for his brothers’ young son, Miguel. He wants to teach him right from wrong and so much more.

When Jose graduates he is going into the Navy or the Marines. That should give him credibility to become a firefighter. He wants to help people and he wants to go to college. Jose wouldn’t change anything about his life because that is what made him the person he is today. But, every time he looks at Miguel, he can’t help but wish Miguel’s dad was alive to play baseball with him and to answer all those questions he keeps coming up with for Uncle Jose.


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