Wintana Mesfin is a graduating fifth grader at Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary in San Jose, California. She delivered a version of this story at Rocketship Public Schools’ Tenth Anniversary Celebration in April as the winner of Rocketship’s Oracy Competition.My name is Wintana Mesfin. I am a proud fifth grader from Rocketship Mateo Sheedy. I am graduating this month and will attend middle school, high school, and very soon be a college graduate. I will always remember that day when I first entered Rocketship Mateo Sheedy in 2012. I was starting kindergarten. I walked in and I knew that it was not going to be easy for me, not even close. Every single kindergartner had every right to be nervous, I mean it was their first year in school. They would probably cry a lot and have tons of other problems. But it was more than that for me - I did not even know one single word in English.I was new to America and at home we talked Tigrinya, which is a Ethiopian language. That first year was hard for all of us—my mother, my teachers, and myself. But Rocketship never gave up on me, or tossed me over and predicted that I was useless. Rocketship did everything they could to make me successful. They and my very persistent mom helped me become who I am today.
By the end of the year, I improved...by a lot!
But Rocketship didn’t stop there, they kept going and they kept helping me throughout the years. I had grown from not knowing any English to being a very talkative girl.
Now, I am in fifth grade and I am one out of two people that have the highest step level in the whole school - I’ve checked. I went from not knowing anything to getting great scores. But I can’t take all the credit because I had a ton of help from Rocketship.
So who am I? I am Wintana Mesfin. I am a girl that went from not knowing a single thing and not knowing a single word in English to being one of the highest ranking students and going above and beyond. I am a daughter to a very persistent single mom. I am a sister to a very energetic 5-year-old boy. I am a student to a lot of wonderful teachers.
But most importantly I am me:
- I m someone who believes in not giving up.
- I am someone who believes that you should keep going.
- I am someone who believes education is a powerful tool.
- I am the girl who went from down near the bottom to up at the top through persistence and determination.
At home, my mom used to put my little brother to sleep and take time off of everything to help me understand the letters by telling me what their sounds were and what their name was. At school I used to give up recess to stay inside with my teacher named Ms. Wise. She used to use Google Translate to communicate with me. I did all of this because I knew that I could achieve anything with lots of practice and determination and I knew eventually I would be just like the other students or more.
I believe that I can achieve anything with lots of practice and lots of help just like Rocketship has done for me.
When I grow up, I want to be the first person in my family to go to college. I want to study history because I also want to be a historian. I would really like to be a historian because I really like knowing about what happened in the past. It fascinates me to know what caused something to happen and the effect it had on history. I know this will mean I have to work extra hard, go above and beyond, and never stop learning.
But I know I can do it, because look at how far I’ve already come. Because of that, I know I can totally achieve my dream.
Whenever people ask me how I became successful I will always tell this story and I will always mention Rocketship. Thank you Rocketship for everything you’ve done for me!
Check out Together We Rise: The Story of Rocketship Public Schools’ First Ten Years. This blog is a part of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools' month long celebration of #CharterGrads.