Aponza encourages Teach For America to students
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 15:04
A cursory glance at Charles Guerrier-Aponza may not quite tell his whole story. Just one look may showcase the happy-go- lucky student, always with a smile on his face, but this cannot simply suffice given the struggles he has endured. Despite various setbacks, Aponza has showcased his fighting spirit time and time again and has become one of Baruch College’s most inspirational students.
Born to immigrant parents, Aponza, like many Baruch students, had to endure the pressures of being a first generation American, complete with all the lofty expectations his parents placed on him. His mother, an immigrant from Haiti and his father, who is from Colombia, were never disillusioned about Aponza’s future and the role education could potentially play, enrolling him in private school from a young age. Despite their divorce they worked together and remained active in Aponza’s development. Now a graduate at Baruch College, Aponza reflects on his youth and the impact it made.
“At a young age I didn’t understand why my mother insisted on me going to private school. But as I grew older I learned that my public school district wasn’t a great one and I had a better future at a private school.”
Unbeknownst to him, his mother had refinanced her home just so she could afford his high school education. Upon finding this out later on in life, it has uniquely influenced his career path.
“[My] mother was ensuring I got an education and a future. This is something that made joining Teach For America a no brainer for me.” said Aponza.
However, another critical experience during his freshman year of high school that changed Aponza’s life forever, was the death of his father. Aponza remembers the day clearly.
“An hour before he had an unexpected heart attack he called me. Being a typical teenager I didn’t feel bothered to answer the call, figured I call him later on or tomorrow,” Aponza said.
For Aponza, someone who adored his father greatly, this moment has replayed in his mind over and over again. The “What ifs” reverberated in his head ever since, wondering what could have transpired if he had picked up the phone.
“That moment was something that played in my mind for days, weeks, months after. What if I had answered that call? What if? It killed me inside,” Aponza said.
However, the old saying rings true, “after the darkest night is the day.” Aponza left this experience to supremely motivate him to do his best. That “what if” moment would turn out to the be last one of his life as Aponza began living every day to the fullest with the memory of his father etched deep into the reservoirs of his heart.
“His passing taught me that every day was to be valued as if it was your last. I promised to challenge myself and apply myself fully in every aspect of my life. I went from a steady C student my whole life, to working my way up to the A honor roll throughout high school and play varsity football as well.”
After his formative years of high school were completed, Aponza ventured into the public school realm here at Baruch College. However he soon missed the unique connections he had built up in high school, until he joined Alpha Phi Delta, an experience which has not only provided him with lifelong friends but as well as amazing networking opportunities.
“The bond I share with my brothers can never be quantified or expressed enough,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t have had such a success three years at Baruch.”
However, upon joining school, the pressures of college life affected Aponza as he finished his first semester with a meager 2.4 G.P.A. During his winter break, Aponza underwent some serious self-reflection and planned out some specific goals for his college life.
“During my winter break of my freshman year I set myself a goal. Graduate in three years, graduate with a 3.5 GPA, buy a house and join the Peace Corp, he said. “I’m on track to hit all but one of those goals. I swapped the Peace Corp for Teach for America.”
Though these goals seemed extreme at the time, Aponza could rely on his parents’ struggle and knew he could do anything. He then set out to invest the money his father had left after he passed away. Despite being barely 18-year-old and knowing nothing about real estate, Aponza’s drive led him to find a path.
“I just started researching home ownership, and talking to people involved in real estate,” he said. “It turned out that there was an Alumnus from an Alpha Phi Delta chapter in Connecticut that was a top Real Estate agent in NYC.”