Thursday, July 29, 2004

the story of a springfield latina

BOSTON, July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a speech by Eimy Santiago at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, July 28, 2004:
Buenas noches! Mi nombre es Eimy Santiago. Tengo 21 anos. Y te quiero contar una historia de como John Kerry ayudo mejorar mi vida.
Good evening! My name is Eimy Santiago. I am 21 years old. And I want to tell you about how John Kerry helped save my life. From this stage to my street in Springfield, Massachusetts, it's only a 90-minute drive. But it is a world away. Growing up, I didn't always make the right choices. When I was 14, I ran away from home and into a world of trouble. I fell into a bad crowd. I sold and used illicit drugs. I was trapped in an abusive relationship. Then, I got pregnant and dropped out of high school. A lot of people gave up on me. For a while, I even gave up on myself.
That's when a program called Youthbuild changed my life. And Youthbuild has had no greater champion than Senator John Kerry. Because of John Kerry, a small state effort has become a national program focused on education and community service. Because of John Kerry, thousands of young people like me have been given a second-chance to earn their G.E.D. Because of John Kerry, we have learned job skills like construction by building affordable housing for the homeless and thousands of low-income families. And because of John Kerry, I started to believe in myself again. He even came to my class in Springfield. There I was a high school dropout and seven months pregnant. And John Kerry looked at me, he listened to me, he shook my hand, and he said, "You can make it." And today, I am making it. Thanks to Youthbuild: I earned my G.E.D. I became an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, and with the money I earned, I enrolled in my local community college. It hasn't been easy. My little girl Alex is now three and stays with day care and my family. I work full-time in the afternoons and at night. I go to school full-time in the mornings, and am proud of my grades -- a 3.8 average!
Across America today, there are millions of young people like me, trying to make something of ourselves, studying hard and working hard. And I think it's time that we had a president that worked just as hard for us! America deserves a president who means it when we talk about "leaving no child behind." John Kerry thinks it is unacceptable that nearly half of Hispanic, African-American, and Native American youth do not graduate from high school. Under President Kerry, the quality of a child's education will not depend on the wealth of that child's neighborhood. Education will be funded, classes will be smaller, and teachers will be paid better. And America deserves a president who is committed to helping students afford a college education. Under President Kerry, young people will be able to pay for four years tuition at a public university, in return for serving their communities. And working students like me will get the training and technical skills we need for today's workforce.
Tomorrow, I will go back to Springfield, back to my job and in the fall, back to school. Next spring, I hope to graduate with an associates degree in human services. For a career, I want to help other young people turn their lives around. And for the future, I want to give my little girl Alex a better life. All because a senator named John Kerry believed in a young woman like me. That's the difference John Kerry made in my life. Just imagine the difference President Kerry will make for America! I cannot think of a better way to thank him than to nominate John Kerry to be President of the United States of America! Vota por John Kerry!
Source: Democratic National Convention Committee
CONTACT: Peggy Wilhide of the Democratic National Convention Committee,+1-617-366-3100
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