Kent resident learns the power of perseverance

Eduardo Uriostegui's life could have stopped at 17.

Eduardo Uriostegui

Eduardo Uriostegui

Eduardo Uriostegui’s life could have stopped at 17.

He was suspended from high school because of an altercation, he didn’t have enough credits to graduate and was going through personal turmoil. Eventually, an administrator at Kentridge High School told Uriostegui he was no longer allowed to attend.

“I don’t know why, but there was something inside of me that was holding me back,” said Uriostegui, now 21. “I didn’t want to learn, I didn’t want to go to school; so there were days I just didn’t show up at all.”

But Uriostegui didn’t give up.

“I thought about my mom and how I had made a promise to her that I would make a good life for myself,” he said . “I thought about my future and how I wanted a family and to be able to provide for them. I knew I had to go get that diploma.”

Uriostegui enrolled himself at the Kent Phoenix Academy when he was 19.

“I was so pleased to discover how nice the teachers and the principal was,” he said. “They not only listened to me and treated me well, but they truly believed in me.”

It took Uriostegui seven years to graduate, but he did it this month.

“Holding that diploma was the best feeling in the world,” he said. “I felt so grateful to everyone that had helped me out and I felt so excited because I knew my future could finally start.”

Uriostegui said he realized the need for a diploma when he was rejected for a supervisor position his at a place he’d been working at for several years.

“I was qualified in every way, but could not apply for the position because I didn’t have a high school diploma,” he said. “That’s when I knew I needed to get my act together.”

Uriostegui credits the Kent Phoenix Academy staff and former Kent School Board member Jim Berrios for his success.

“Jim never gave up on me, he never made me feel bad and he always encouraged me,” Uriostegui said. “He made me feel like I could do this.”

Berrios has served as a mentor for various students through the school district’s partnership with Communities in Schools. Uriostegui is his proudest accomplishment.

“I served on the school board for almost six years and I have to say that out of everything I’ve done, Eduardo is my highlight,” Berrios said. “He made those years worth it to me because that’s what the schools are here for. We want the students to graduate from school and create a great life for themselves and Eduardo is a perfect example of that.”

Uriostegui never tested well. He took the state required Washington Assessment of Student Learning test four times and failed.

“There were times he told me he felt like giving up and he’d say to me, ‘what’s the point?’ But I could see so much in him that I couldn’t let him stop trying,” Berrios said.

Berrios gave Uriostegui a job at his family restaurant and would meet with Uriostegui every week to check on how things were going. He would call Uriostegui if Uriostegui didn’t show up for class.

“I would say to him, ‘get back into the game and finish what you started,'” Berrios recalled.

Uriostegui studied hard and took the WASAL for the fifth time. Berrios was excited to call Uriostegui and tell him he passed the test.

“I could tell how great he felt about passing and I was overjoyed for him,” Berrios said. “Eduardo is going to do great things in his life.”

Uriostegui wants to go to college and become an architect.

“I realized through all of this that it is never too late to get what you want,” Uriostegui said.

He has advise for others in similar situations.

“Never give up and always stay positive,” Uriostegui said. “There will always be problems in your life and things that get you down, but life keeps going and you have to be strong.”

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