This blog post is part of our celebration of charter school graduates across the country and their achievements. Join us in celebrating our #CharterGrads!
My name is Tianna Renteria and I am a senior at IDEA Carver College Preparatory in San Antonio, Texas. Though IDEA has become my home away from home for the last few years, at first I did not want to transfer from my old school to IDEA. In fact, I fought my parents hard about it. Luckily for me, what I initially thought was a punishment soon turned into the opportunity of a lifetime.
I grew up on the east side of San Antonio, and as it became time for me to begin high school, my family felt like I needed a change from my environment. They told me I had so much potential and that they were worried about who I was hanging out with at school. They wanted me to think of my future. All I could really think about was how unfair it was to have to leave everyone I knew and go to a completely different school.
When I started my freshman year at IDEA Carver, it was a real struggle. I really didn’t want to go, and I didn’t like wearing the uniform. I just wanted to be at my old school with my friends.
One of the first things that helped me feel more secure were the teachers that I began to spend time with each day. They really made a difference to me. My teachers made me feel cared about. At my old school, teachers would give me a grade just for being there—I wouldn’t even do anything and sometimes I wasn’t even in class . At IDEA, the teachers tried to learn about me and my life, and they really wanted me to be my best.
I had a biology teacher who saw through my sullen demeanor and encouraged me to open up and embrace this community on campus that really wanted to see me succeed. Whenever I felt alone, she would tell me “you can’t just walk around being mad at the world” and remind me that everyone was rooting for me and wanted me to be happy. She said all I had to do was just open up and show the world who I am and be proud of that.
I eventually warmed up a bit, but still expected to go back to my old school once I completed ninth grade. However, my parents made it clear that IDEA Carver was going to be my home for the next few years, and I knew all I could do was to make the best of it.
I thought about what my teachers told me, and how all I had to do was be open to new possibilities. Our AP classes were preparing us for college. Our class trips to colleges across the country prepared us for college. Everything at IDEA was slowly building us to be ready for our lives, and it was opening my eyes to opportunities I never dreamed were possible for someone like me.
Before IDEA, I wasn’t really thinking about college. I just went to school. But at IDEA, I had a purpose and I’m thankful because changing schools changed my life.
As a student at IDEA, I began to take my future seriously. I made friends and studied hard. I was one of ten students selected for the prestigious David Robinson Fellowship, which provides financial support for college-bound seniors graduating from IDEA Carver.
The fellowship consists of a mentor program by Robinson paired with six sessions of enriching co-curricular and leadership development classes. This is in addition to a college scholarship. The goal of the fellowship is to foster success and graduation from a college or university within four years—these funds can be used for tuition, books, living expenses, or other costs related to my education.
In total, I applied to eight universities and was overjoyed at the amount of acceptances I received. At San Antonio’s inaugural College Signing Day I was overcome with emotion as I stood before my family and proudly announced that I will attend Texas Southern University in Houston this fall to study criminal justice. In the future, I am already considering applying to Howard University School of Law to earn my Juris Doctor degree.
When I stop to consider what my life could have been compared to what it is going to be, I can’t help but feel grateful that my parents chose the right path for me—even when I couldn’t see it. I don’t know where I would be if I had stayed at my old school. I don’t even know if I would be going to college. But I do know that if my parents hadn’t sent me to IDEA, I wouldn’t have all the opportunities I have now.
Tianna Renteria will attend Texas Southern University in the fall. She is a graduate of IDEA Carver College Preparatory.
[Click to Tweet] Tianna Renteria, a recent graduate of @IDEAschools Carver College Preparatory, opens up about how her charter school changed the trajectory of her life #CharterGrads