Editor’s note: Isabella Garcia, a senior at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in South Florida, wrote this essay as part of her college application. Located in a working-class section of Miami, La Progresiva serves 622 students who qualify for Florida Tax Credit Scholarships. Isabella’s essay came to redefinED unsolicited and is being published with her permission. You can hear more from La Progresiva students here.

The most valuable lesson I have learned while in high school is to be charitable. I have attended La Progresiva Presbyterian School (LPPS) for nearly thirteen years. Yes, this is a private school, and no— my single mother is not rich. I have been fortunate enough to attend this school because of charity – the kindness of others. 

I, along with many others, attend this school on the Step Up For Students low–income scholarship. Were it not for this act of charity, I might not have the aspirations I do now. Being the child of immigrants heavily affected my academics; my mother pushed me to do my best in school because she wanted me to have the future that was out of reach for her.

This scholarship that I was awarded and was able to use at LPPS was a ray of hope for my family. Although I may have been too young to realize the opportunity I was provided, it has propelled me to never take anything for granted. This form of charity has given my family and me this educational opportunity, opening the possibilities of a better life.

These multi-million dollar companies, through a charitable tax credit, may have provided what seemed to them an insignificant donation, but through their charity have provided me with opportunities that otherwise would not have been available. Throughout my thirteen years at LPPS, I realized that it was imperative for me to be a part of the ripple effect. 

Different missions projects and community service opportunities at LPPS opened my eyes to the impact that charity has on a community. When one of the students was diagnosed with cancer, the entire school came together to fundraise and assist her family, even after her passing. I have learned that being part of something bigger than myself will produce an impact that will resonate. 

In every aspect of my life, I have gained the understanding that you must love your fellow man as yourself. Through the giving of my time, just like the giving of the donations to produce these scholarships, I have learned how essential charity is to produce a society, in which kindness can abound. 

The charity I have received has inspired me to participate in acts of goodwill, such as the Susan G. Komen “More than Pink Walk”, which cemented my desire to dedicate my life to paying it forward. Personally, escorting the last participant in the walk – who was currently battling cancer herself and required a walker – was one of the greatest honors of my life. 

This event played a pivotal role in my choice of career; seeing the impact doctors have on the lives of these women has motivated me to pursue a career as a doctor. Science has always been an interest of mine and a career in which it can be used to help others will fulfill the thirteen-year lesson of charity I have been given.

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