Aurora Flores-Wolsky

As Interviewed by Varun Varshney, March 25, 2019

Aurora Flores-Wolsky: In Her Own Words

I'm originally from East Los Angeles in California and I attended Elementary School. I was a good student and then I attended a secondary school which was a junior high school: Stevenson Jr High School and there were over 3000 kids at my junior high school and I was the one with the with the best GPA. I had a 4.0 GPA and I was really lucky in that I had one math teacher by the name of Mr. Don Mitchell. He asked me if I was interested in applying to a private school. And, I didn't know what a private school was. He explained to me and I was totally impressed by this school and so he said “Would you like to apply to this school?” and I said “Sure, I’d like to apply to that school.” So, I applied.

I was lucky enough that and I got in and they asked me to come visit and so everywhere where I went to school it was a neighborhood where a bunch of Mexican, Mexican Americans live. So, we all looked alike. I speak Spanish at home with my parents and in school I spoke English. I learned English, that’s how I got to learn English. I went to the school and it was totally different I was one of the very few brown people that were there. So, I felt out of place and I learned that I sounded different and I look different and people looked at me differently but I still decided to go to this school and give it a shot because I knew it was for my education and my mom always taught me that having an education was the one thing that was going to get me out of the poverty that I was born into. So I decided to go and it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life but because I went to the school it made me, it taught me things that I would have never learned in a public school and just a regular school. Classes were a lot smaller. Then I started learning Russian as a 9th grader. I wasn’t so good at the beginning but then by the time I was finished, I was really good! I was trilingual.

I came from a school where there were 30-65 students in each class and there you had 15-16. The first time I got my report card, it was so sad because it was the first time I went home, back to Los Angeles. I opened up the report card and it said I got a 3.5, and that’s like a C. And I was shattered, but just, what am I going to do? And I thought, all I can do is go back and keep trying harder. So I went back and the next trimester I made honor roll. I just kept doing the best that I could, because that’s all you can do, you keep trying. If you don't succeed the first time you give something a try, you keep trying and so that's what I did at this school.

Many times they would ask me “Where, or what country, are you from?”, and it used to make me so mad, because I was from Los Angeles and they didn't know what I was talking about, and I realized that I looked different, sounded different, felt different, but I didn’t have time to worry about that. Many times people would talk behind my back and not say nice things, but the best thing I did was, I just ignored it.

My mom said that my first brother was the smartest one out of all of us. And, he did, he also went to Phillips Academy, but his grades I guess weren’t as good, see, there’s a difference between someone who is smart and someone who doesn't give up, ever. And, it didn't matter what it took for me and when I applied to Stanford they were impressed. And I applied, got in everywhere. Stanford, they flew me out there, picked me up, they took me to classes, they fed me, they took me to parties, it was incredible, and so I went to Stanford.