Federal Way Latino family fosters success

“I want a better life for myself and my family,” said Mayra Rodriguez, a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School.

Rodriguez was recently awarded a computer from a prize drawing at the Latino Family Night on Oct. 7. Owning her own computer will greatly lend to her academic success as it is a struggle to succeed in high school or college without one.

“Many reports and projects have to be typed. Without a computer at home, you have to go to the library or stay after school to do work,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is the second oldest of four children, all of whom are successful students, according to their parents, Fernando Rodriguez and Maria Lopez. They both work in construction and recently purchased a home. They believe that their children’s success in school is in part a result of their own encouragement.

“We have high expectations of all our kids. We want them to study a career, which is why we came to this country,” said Rodriguez.

Their daughter Mayra is no exception. Although she said she struggles with reading, she proudly said she excels at math. Her most immediate goals are to graduate from high school and go to college, then have a good job.

“I would like a career in anything that involves mathematics,” she said.

Rodriguez said that being a Latino student does bring with it obstacles. She said that negative stereotypes exist about Latinos.

“Some people think that we are not well-educated or won’t be able to achieve anything,” she said.

The Rodriguez family is out to dispel those beliefs. Fortunately, by being proactive they are grateful to have received ample support from the programs the Federal Way School District offers. One such program was GEAR UP, which encourages students to attend college. Rodriguez also stressed the importance of participation of immigrant parents in their child’s education.

“Parents should not be afraid to attend school meetings and conferences. As many times as you are invited to enter the school, you should go,” Rodriguez recommended.

Although things like the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) and college acceptance loom ahead, Rodriguez is very hopeful of her future, and she has the support she needs along the way to succeed.

Teniel Sabin is the Hispanic Community Liaison for Federal Way: (253) 835-2613 in English or (253) 835-2606 or

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