This story is such an inspiration and it teaches a valuable life lesson. Music Doing Good in Schools intern, Ishmael Esparza, shares his story of overcoming obstacles and working hard to manifest his dreams. Along the way, he learned that we don’t have to overcompensate for any disability by running ourselves into the ground. While he continues to strive for excellence, he also learned that he is worthy, no matter how hard he works. He learned this valuable lesson early in life, while many adults never come to this realization. We are so proud of Ishmael!
“As a dreamful, hardworking, and motivated young actor, I strive for greatness today to make tomorrow better. In a Title I community where the budget is small but my hope still remains, I work my hardest each and every day to stand out and be who I truly am through the arts. I believe that as today’s youth we have the power to be the change we want to see in the world, by shaping our minds and preparing for greatness.
I am 18 years old and a rising senior at Cesar E. Chavez High School. I have been elected as the 2018 Senior Class President and I plan on bringing new ideas to our school and community. As I accept the challenges of the upcoming year, my hopes are to make it not only an unforgettable year, but a year that will positively impact future classes. Along with being the Senior Class President I am also an International Honor Thespian, a member of my school’s theatre department (Chavez Lobo Theatre Company), a part of The Junior State of America (JSA), Interact, and The Spanish Honor Society.
I was brought into Music Doing Good in Schools 4 years ago as an 8th grade student at Stevenson Middle School. My good friend Dariana Mejia reached out and told me how much she thinks I would enjoy the program…and boy was she right! From the second I walked in the door I was welcomed with such positive energy and joyful people. I knew at that moment I found a home outside of home. That year I starred in the hit play “Mostly Blues.” That summer I was invited to attend an internship at Music Doing Good in Schools office entitled “Good Job!”. I, along with other deserving young artists, was given the opportunity to work hands on with Aisha Ussery (Creator and Program Director of Music Doing Good in Schools) and Phillip Hall (Assistant Program Director) in writing that years upcoming play “That’s Classic”. Unfortunately, after “That’s Classic” I was unable to continue working with the program due to personal reasons, however I found my way back home to Music Doing Good in Schools this year.
Music Doing Good in Schools was a truly life changing experience for me. Given the opportunity to perform on a professional stage with a great audience was truly the experience of a life time. The program has inspired me to chase my dreams of becoming a professional actor. They have taught me that no dream is too big as long as I’m willing to work for it. They encouraged me to join my high school’s theatre department the “Chavez Lobo Theatre Company”, here I have been giving the opportunity to work on shows such as Chicago, A Comedy of Errors, The Brothers Grim Spectaculathon, and Wiley and the Hairy Man. Playing the role of “Mammy” a female character from “Wiley and the Hairy Man”, I took home the title of “All Star Cast Member” from our District UIL One Act Competition. I have also been given opportunities to lead our theatre department. In the 2016-17 school year, I served as the International Thespian Honor Society troupe number 7977 Vice President.
Doing “the bare minimum” has never been in my vocabulary. When I was in the 3rd grade I was diagnosed with a learning disability called Dyslexia. I always found myself working harder then the other kids just to do what they did so easily. Finding this information out was devastating. I was finally given the answer to why I had to work harder than the other kids, but it was in no way anything that I was expecting. I was stuck and unsure about what to do. Some days after finding out about my Dyslexia I was given a test. The test was to determine if I was a GT (Gifted and Talented) student as I had been placed in the GT classes before they knew about my learning disability. The results of said test shocked me. At that moment, I had become Park Places Elementary Schools first ever Gifted and Talented student with a learning disability. I knew then that no more matter what setbacks I go through in life all I need to do it power through and I will find a way.
I decided that I wouldn’t let myself be defined by my learning disability. I wanted to be more. I wanted to do more not only for myself, but for the other students with learning disabilities being told that they cannot do something because of what they are labeled as on a piece of paper. Since then I pushed myself to stay apart of GT, and going on to middle school joining Pre-AP, and continuing in high school being an AP student. I pushed myself day after day and I ran myself to a breaking point. I was doing everything I could to show that I would not let dyslexia define me. By being a member of Chavez Prep, taking AP classes, being a part of numerous extracurricular activities, and juggling a job I finally pushed myself to far. My grades started to slip, I let down the organizations that I had been a part of, and I had to quit my job. I realized that I had been trying to do too much. I sat back I looked around only to see that I didn’t need to be an AP student, or join so many clubs and organizations, or even have a job. I was doing it all because I couldn’t stand someone looking at me differently because of some title. I finally realized that I know what I am capable of and I don’t need to run myself ragged trying to show others what I am capable of.
Being a member of Volunteer Houston and Music Doing Good in Schools truly means the world to me. It gives me the chance to show that despite having the label of Dyslexia I am more than capable of working with such a phenomenal non-profit organization, and give back to my community. Thank you to the Coca Cola Foundation, Volunteer Houston, and Music Doing Good. I hope that my work with Music Doing Good creates an opportunity to be considered for a scholarship towards my college education. It is organizations like yours that make the world a better place and make today’s youth look forward to the future.”
Ishmael Jesus Esparza
Music Doing Good in Schools
Executive Assistant Intern