A four year veteran of Liga MAC’s student support program, Raul (a pseudonym), was on track to receive a scholarship to a local university before COVID turned his in person learning to an online experience. In many ways, Raul’s backstory is typical of the marginalized students Liga MAC seeks to help: child of a poorly educated single parent; family relocated from mainland Mexico for economic reasons; parents are or were victims of abuse or substance abuse or both; support parent employed in minimum wage job.
When Raul’s mother lost her house cleaning job at the beginning of the pandemic, the family became reliant on community food programs and Liga MAC’s food voucher system. In December Raul, a grade 12 student, was one of the first to qualify for a laptop through Liga MAC’s generous donor supported laptop loan program. Also in December to help family finances, Raul managed to find employment but unfortunately he also managed to make some poor choices in terms of associations.
In January of this year, Karen Castro, Liga MAC’s Educational Support Co-ordinator, began rounding up student transcripts in preparation for the payment of second semester tuition fees. After repeated requests to Raul for transcripts and with nothing forthcoming, Karen contacted Raul’s school. The problem finally became apparent: Raul was failing almost every subject. To be accepted into Liga MAC’s student support program, students must maintain an 8.5 GPA (out of 10). Raul’s average was 6.0.
Karen immediately contacted Raul’s mother and learned that his mother suspected Raul, through his poor associations, had taken up drug use. Mother and son were called into Liga MAC’s Centro de Apoyo where Raul was given an ultimatum: submit to drug testing and therapy or forfeit your educational support. Fortunately, Raul’s drug use was limited to marijuana and through the Centro de Integracion Juvenil he is now receiving therapy.
Raul’s attitude has improved and his grades have made a sharp improvement. In recent mid-term tests Raul has registered 10 on every subject! An aptitude test taken through the Instituto de la Juventud del Municipio de Los Cabos, revealed Raul’s skillset. Back on track, Raul is scheduled for an admission exam for the local ITES University where he plans to study Business Management.
Why would a student who for four years maintained a 8.5 GPA or greater, suddenly get involved in drugs and risk his educational support and his future? That question may go unanswered, but the timing is more than a mere co-incidence. The students Liga MAC supports are already in a precarious economic situation. It takes very little to tip the scale to a point of hopelessness. When the whole world seems to be unsettled that can filter down to a personal level of loss. Without Liga MAC’s intervention and a structured recovery, Raul’s outcome might have been much worse.