David Ortiz, Nativity Prep class of 2005, and San Diego State University class of 2015, is a shining example of how investing in Nativity Prep’s students can transform a life. David embodies a growth mindset, one that is largely focused on serving others. Within the first few minutes of meeting David it’s easy to assess his caring nature and genuine interest in others. However, his path started in a challenging place. Xochitl Alvarez, Nativity Prep’s Director of Graduate Support remembers David during his middle school years, “David was resilient despite the challenges of his home life. Though he struggled academically and emotionally the first year or so at Nativity Prep, once the light went on there was no stopping him. His success inspires me to never give up on our students, regardless of their situation.”
David credits Nativity Prep with changing the trajectory of his life for the better. David shared, “I knew I wanted a better life for myself and I believed school was a major part of the equation. Nativity Prep believed in me and showed me the path.” David added, “I don’t think I fully appreciated the incredible impact the school had on me until later in life, but now I see all they invested in me and how it was the turning point.” One highlight of David’s experience at Nativity Prep was being paired with his mentor, Kenny Jones. A mentorship that started in 2002, Kenny and David continue to meet for lunch once a month. As Oprah Winfrey says, “A mentor is someone who helps you see the hope inside yourself.” David shared, “Kenny has always been able to support and mentor me in an uplifting way. He probably doesn’t know how much he has inspired and help me throughout the years, but he has.” After graduating from eighth grade, the Graduate Support Program helped David successfully matriculate to High Tech High. Beginning his sophomore year in high school, David worked five days a week to help cover the cost of some his supplemental needs and to have some spending money. Every day after school David worked at Barrio Station, a youth center in Barrio Logan, providing technical support to the center. While at High Tech High, David regularly volunteered with Izcalli, whose mission is to transform the lives of Chicana/o and Indigenous communities by promoting cultural consciousness through the arts, education, and community dialogue. Though his high school helped with some aspects of preparing for college, David isn’t sure he would’ve applied for and graduated from college without the support of Nativity Prep’s Graduate Support Program. “If it wasn’t for Nativity Prep, I would have never applied and gotten into a university because I didn’t know how. I don’t know what my life would have been like if I didn’t graduate or even attend San Diego State University, Nativity Prep helped me bridge the gap towards a better future”.
“If it wasn’t for Nativity Prep, I would have never applied and gotten into a university…”
David’s dream of earning a better life for himself and his family took a giant step forward the day he was accepted into San Diego State University. David shared, “I remember walking into my dorm room the first day of my freshman year and looking at my bed thinking, wow, I don’t have to sleep on the living room floor anymore.” While studying Interdisciplinary Studies (Latin American Studies, Chicano Studies and Art), David worked different jobs, his favorite of which was tutoring K-12 graders. During one summer break at SDSU he took an internship position as a graphic designer for a trekking company in Peru. “It was an amazing experience being able to travel to another part of the continent to do work that I enjoy doing. It opened up a new world of possibilities for me and taught me that I can go far in life, more than I thought I could ever accomplish.” In 2015, David became the first person in his family to graduate college, an accomplishment he expects will carry on for generations to come.
After graduating from SDSU, David took a summer job in Costa Rica, working with high school students in international leadership development and adventure seeking. David eventually took a position as a case manager in the mental health department of The Family Health Centers of San Diego, where he worked with therapists, psychiatrists and their patients to connect them to resources and information. David currently works for the Central Library as a Career Agent, counseling individuals looking for employment. In addition to his daily job, David volunteers at Nativity Prep, where he has been a guest speaker sharing his story and perspective with our middle school and high school students. Xochitl Alvarez says she runs into David around town quite often. “I’ve spotted David on scaffolding in Chicano Park restoring murals, I’ve seen him taking photos at an Art Crawl in Barrio Logan for a photography class he was taking at a local community college, and I recently saw him at a Science and Art Expo. He’s very involved participating and serving his community.” In what might be his most rewarding accomplishment, inspired by her son, David’s mother graduated with a GED and then enrolled in a local community college to start her path to college graduation. David, you inspire everyone around you, we’re proud of the life you live!