The Oracle

Perez gives back to LSF

Shannon Gage, Oracle Staff Writer

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Clutching math, science, and English books, kids from preschool to high school trickle through the doors of the National Cathedral, seeking help with schoolwork. Most Saturdays, junior Valeria Perez-Aragon is there to meet them.

Perez-Aragon is a volunteer tutor for the Latino Student Fund (LSF), an organization in DC that provides academic support to underserved Latino students who live in households where English is not the predominantly used language.

LSF aims to help students go to college through tutoring, college prep programs, mentorship, and other forms of guidance. While anyone is welcome to their help, they focus on low-income students who will be the first in their families to go to college.

“There are so many resources, but sometimes, because of your circumstances, you don’t know that they’re there,” said Perez-Aragon.

She knows firsthand about the resources the organization provides to its students. Perez-Aragon started coming to LSF for help with schoolwork when she was in the sixth grade.

A bright young student, she found herself bored with the lack of challenge she received in her math classes at school, but struggled to master English, having emigrated from Peru when she was four. LSF helped her find a better school to attend and to gain confidence in her English abilities.

“I felt confident finally in my English skills, but I was getting that challenge that I needed in math,” said Perez-Aragon, who still receives SAT and college prep help from the organization.

Now, she is also giving back by tutoring and volunteering at LSF events whenever she can, recognizing the impact the encouragement of its volunteers has had on her life.

“To be able to do that for someone else…that is amazing to me because I feel like I’m genuinely making an impact in someone’s life,” said Perez-Aragon.

Perez-Aragon plans to go to college in DC and become a permanent tutor for LSF. The organization, she said, has formed her life goals and fueled her passion for human rights, international relations, and nonprofit work.
“Seeing the kid when they understand something, when it finally clicks and they feel so good because they understand it—that’s the best feeling in the world, I think,” said Perez-Aragon.

For Perez-Aragon, there is no greater joy than seeing the time and hard work she pours into the kids pay off.
“Since I was little, my aunt told me education is the key to life….Money comes and goes, but an education—no one can take that away from you,” said Perez-Aragon.

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West Springfield High School Newspaper
Perez gives back to LSF