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Something Greater Than Ourselves

CIS of Houston
Physical Health

With the support of CIS, our students stay in school, graduate and go on to bright futures. They all have a story about their journey to who they are today. Alumnus, Karl, shares his.

I am an immigrant from the Philippines, and I migrated to the United States to be with my family in Houston in 2004. It was a culture shock. Since I was the only Asian student at my school, I worried not just about fitting in, but about being bullied like I was in the Philippines. A year later, I was diagnosed with a rare tumor that was growing aggressively on my left jaw, and facial deformity slowly followed. All the while, I was still just trying to figure out how not to get picked on by fellow students. I was fortunate enough to meet my Communities In Schools site coordinator, Lourdes Jimenez, when she started a CIS afterschool program at my school.

Through the programs she brought to our school, I was able to stay away from bad influences, gain self-confidence and learn that I didn't have to stay in my shell. CIS also encouraged me to study harder and get better grades. And through Ms. Jimenez and with CIS's network of organizations, I received the medical treatment I needed to help me with my condition.

After multiple surgeries and months of school absences for my recovery, I was still able to graduate second in my class with honors thanks to the mental, emotional and physical support that CIS provided me. I was also grateful for my teachers and school administrators who made sure that school work reached me at home while I was recovering, and for my site coordinator who I now call my second mother.          

After graduating high school, I pursued a degree in culinary arts and worked for companies including the House of Blues, The Houston Methodist Hospital and the MD Anderson Cancer Center. I then decided to move on and explore a different side of my career and now currently work for the City of Stafford, Texas, as a code compliance/health inspector.

I am passionate about the CIS Alumni Leadership Network because it is a wonderful opportunity to share our ideas and to help establish more programs for others who are going through the same experiences as I did. It’s important to emphasize keeping our students safe – mentally, physically and emotionally – so they can focus on striving for success academically and most importantly, in life. I want to be able to inspire students to achieve, so we can all be part of something greater than ourselves.

- March 2017

In Texas