PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Beatriz Perez’s life hasn’t turned out the way she thought it would.
She’s a student at the Career and Technical Education Center (or CTEC) campus in Salem where she studies robotics, drones and engineering.
But just a few years ago when she was 14 years old, Perez got pregnant. After her son was born, she dropped out of school.
“Since I’m Hispanic, you can get jobs in the fields or do different things, so I did that for a while,” said Perez. “And eventually I told myself I don’t want to do this — I don’t want to live like this my whole life, I don’t want to be here.”
Three years went by before the young mother decided to re-enroll in school. Perez told KOIN 6 News she’s inspired by her son and her parents, who are migrant farm workers.
“They didn’t even go to high school, they didn’t have the opportunity to think about high school or middle school,” Perez said of her parents. “So for them, I would say their goal for me is to be something else — to at least embrace the opportunity I have.”
Perez now splits her time between CTEC and the Roberts High School Teen Parent Program where teachers sing her praises.
“She’s one of the most resilient kids I’ve ever seen,” said CTEC science teacher Kara McGuirk. “She knows her abilities and challenges are greater than other students. She’s not shy about advocating for herself when a situation gets too stressful.”
Perez said she wants to become an engineer. She plans to enroll in community college after she graduates this year. From there, Perez said she plans to pursue higher education until she earns a degree in engineering.
“I want to help the world or create a solution,” she said. “I want to do something that will make a change.”