Samuel, Class of 2014

Samuel, Class of 2014

Resilience and Impact

Sam Gonzalez’s life story is a testament to the resilience and determination of his immigrant family. Born to parents who sought a better life in the United States, Sam’s journey from Nativity Prep Academy to UC Riverside and beyond reflects his firm commitment to education and making a positive impact in the world.

Sam’s parents, immigrants from Puebla, Mexico, faced the challenges of unstable jobs and uncertain futures. Despite the difficulties, they instilled a sense of gratitude and tenacity in Sam and his sisters, Rebeca, NPA Class of 2016, Academy of Our Lady of Peace Class of 2020, University of San Diego Class of 2024, and Yarel, NPA Class of 2026. Sam’s close relationship with his family laid the foundation for his enduring connection to his roots.

The decision to enroll ​​Sam in Nativity Prep was an easy one after being introduced to the unique program and tight-knit community by friends. Sam was an introverted student when entering middle school but academically focused, earning A’s and B’s. He was involved in the Anatomy Club and also competed in basketball, soccer, and track. He has fond memories of teachers like Mr. Bonde, Mr. Centanni, and Mr. Sullivan, who also left lasting impressions on Sam.

During his time in middle school, Sam was mentored by current NPA Board Chair Paul Bishop. Paul was pivotal in shaping Sam’s outlook on life and the world. He was one of the first people Sam opened up to outside his family. Sam remembers asking Paul about his life experiences and wanting to understand him. Sam valued the patience and time Paul gave him throughout the years. Paul shares, “We enjoyed meeting during high school and into his college years. I even visited him at his college dorm during the pandemic in 2020 (we met outside over pizza), which helped us both during that time of separation and anxiety. I have noticed tremendous growth in Samuel’s maturity level in the past few years as his excitement about his future career path options excites him.”

Sam’s commute to school was an obstacle that many Bishop’s students did not have to overcome. When sharing this, Sam said, “My commute to Bishop’s highlights the need for affordable, accessible, and sustainable transportation.” For four years, Sam’s father woke him up at 5:00 am to be picked up on time by a bus provided by Bishop’s in Old Town. Once the school day ended, since his dad was at work, Sam would take the bus from La Jolla to Old Town and then the trolley or a second bus to get home. His commute home lasted up to an hour and a half on a regular day. On a rainy day, it took Sam two hours to get home. Despite this long commute, Sam says the exposure to various people was educational. “Some days you’d meet wonderful people who would tell you about their stories and what brought them to San Diego,” Sam said. “Other days, you’d encounter someone offering you drugs or fighting with the bus driver.”

After applying to Occidental College, UC San Diego, SDSU, UC Irvine, and UC Merced, he ultimately picked UC Riverside to continue his academic career. Sam’s time in Riverside was a fun and formative period. He embraced the Nativity Prep Graduate Support Program motto, “What’s our focus? College”. Navigating the challenges as a first-generation college student, he pursued a Sociology and Political Science double major. Sam was a member of the Student Voice Committee, where he engaged and spoke with UC Riverside community members about their student experience and how it could be improved. In addition to finding himself and his voice, the support from the Graduate Support Program at Nativity Prep continued to guide him through these years with resources and regular check-ins. Sam shared, “I valued my family, my friends, my mentors, and GSP because I knew I could count on all four of them. What I loved about GSP during college was getting the care packages every other break along with a note from a current NPA student.“

Through his involvement in the Student Voice Committee and lessons learned from mentors like Paul Bishop, Sam found his passion for making a change and being a voice for his community. Sam currently works as a Field Representative for California State Assemblymember, Dr. Akilah Weber, M.D. His current position involves field visits, event coordination, and casework for the representative’s office. While working full-time, he is also a San Diego State University graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in Political Science. Whenever Sam faces a challenge, he draws strength from his upbringing and the community that raised him. Sam has recently contributed his leadership to Nativity Prep’s Alumni Advisory Council. As a founding member, he is committed to mentoring current Nativity Prep students and plans to support Nativity Prep’s growth and impact in the community well into the future. With the ultimate goal of becoming a college professor, Sam plans to continue his academic journey to earn a Ph.D.

Sam’s story inspires resilience, gratitude, and a commitment to making a difference. Sam is the first member of his family to earn a college degree. Yet, his ambitions soar beyond this initial achievement. As he embarks on the rigorous journey towards earning the title of Dr. Gonzalez, Nativity Prep is privileged to offer steadfast support and guidance at every step of his path.