This letter from a Latino student to a man who questioned his intelligence is incredible
Students of colour that excel in education often seen their achievements diminished, and attributed to affirmative action and lower standards. Not only are these assumptions obnoxious and patronising, but they also ignore the fact that these kids are excelling despite being given lesser opportunities in economically-challenged communities.
Guillermo Camarillo of Chicago, Illinois, is one of these students. After being accepted into Stanford, Camarillo proudly told his dentist about his achievement. However, rather than be proud of the youngster, the dentist tried to attribute his achievements to affirmative action.
Taking to his Facebook to post about the interaction, Camarillo penned an open letter to his dentist, which went viral and received over 61,000 likes and 15,000 shares.
"Were you surprised because you had a Stanford student on your chair or because you had a minority, low-income student, that needed government help to get braces, and would be attending Stanford on your chair? I believe it was the latter."
Understandably, Camarillo couldn't believe that the dentist asked him for his ACT score. He also couldn't hide his shock that the dentist said that his daughter had performed better on the ACT but wasn't admitted into Stanford.
"You then said, 'Well my daughter got a 35 and she didn't get into Stanford. She goes to [University of Michigan].' In my head I thought, 'Wow that's great, UMich is a good school.' But you didn't stop there, you kept going. You said, 'Well when you have kids from neighborhoods like THESE, like you know, ENGLEWOOD. It's easy for them to get into Harvard or Stanford with a (states my score).'"
Not done there, the dentist then had the audacity to compare Camarillo's achievements to starring in a reality TV competition.
"He continued, 'you're very lucky. Consider yourself very lucky. Getting into Stanford is like competing on The Voice, you know, when you get the buzzer.'"
"Wait what? So you're telling me that 18 years of rigorous hard work is like going on The Voice. You're telling me that pure luck got me admitted into not only Stanford, but schools like Princeton, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and WASHU, and waitlisted at Tufts, Penn, and Columbia (I didn't tell him this btw)?! To say that I was admitted into a school simply because of my background is ridiculous.
"OF COURSE YOUR DAUGHTER WAS GOING TO SCORE HIGHER THAN ME. You're a dentist that can afford to send her to a school that will help her achieve a score like that. You're an educated dentist, with a college degree and dentistry degree. My parents, two undocumented immigrants that only obtained a grammar school education, couldn't afford to send me to private schools. Yes, I may have grown up in a neighborhood that doesn't have many young kids going to schools like Stanford. But it doesn't mean that people where I come from don't have the potential to succeed at Stanford. We deserve to go to places like Stanford."
Finishing off his letter, Camarillo put the dentist's daughter's achievements into perspective.
“[The daughter] literally scored a few points higher than me. If those few points mean that she is better than me, then you are neglecting a lot. You are neglecting that I faced more struggles than your daughter. You are neglecting that all odds were against me. But you feel entitled to say that I got 'lucky' and that 'because of where I come from' I got into Stanford. Little do you know that at a young age I excelled in classrooms. My mother kept transferring me schools every time we moved to a new, cramped apartment. But I excelled."
For someone in Camarillo's position to get into Stanford is nothing short of remarkable. Rather than ridiculing him, we should be praising him.