This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about outstanding graduating seniors in the Class of 2023.
Osvaldo Jimenez is the son of Mexican immigrants who made sure he knew the value of education at an early age. In his elementary years, they took him to the local library for tutoring in English and math. And they worked overtime in their jobs at restaurants and construction sites to make sure he’d be able to attend college. “Ever since I was little my parents have said that college is a great opportunity that I have and that it’s something I should take advantage of,” he says.
Now, Osvaldo’s dreams of receiving a university education are coming true. He’s about to graduate from Nordhoff High School in Ojai and will be attending UC Davis this fall – making him the first person in his family to attend college.
He says his parents aren’t the only ones who helped him get here. He played varsity soccer all four years at Nordhoff where the coaches made a real impact on his life. “They taught me many things outside of soccer that will help me in life,” he says. “Like discipline, hard work and the understanding of what true commitment is.”
Osvaldo also credits Kara Hooper, who founded a nonprofit called O-Higher Ed that helps first-generation college students in the Ojai area access higher education. “Since no one in my family has ever gone to college, it’s something very new to me,” Osvaldo says. O-Higher Ed provides free counseling and guidance to ensure that students meet college entry requirements, and it helps them navigate the application process. “I don’t think I would have ended up at Davis if it wasn’t for her help,” Osvaldo says.
Osvaldo was also motivated to go to college by his experience working construction with his dad during the summers. “It’s hard work,” he says. “Especially in the summer, it’s very hot and very physical.”
At Davis, Osvaldo plans to put his math skills to work and major in economics. “Ever since I was little, I’ve been really good at math and it’s something I’m passionate about and enjoy,” he says. “The way I see it, numbers are everywhere. They’re used in everyday life, so I think it’s something very important to know and understand.”
Osvaldo envisions a career as a financial planner and a future where he has the resources to help his parents retire from their jobs. It would be his way to thank them for everything they’ve done to put him on the path to success.