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Juan Renteria

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Juan Renteria

“Do you want to know something incredible? Your legacy starts now. My parents have gifted me a legacy of hope and opportunity. I get to carry that forward and add to it as I continue to grow. During your time at the University of Oklahoma, you will be challenged, encouraged, and presented with so many opportunities."

Dear Future Sooner,

I am so proud of you. You have worked so hard throughout your high school career and now you are about to embark on, quite possibly, one of the most formative adventures of your life. I hope you understand just how special OU is. I still remember the day my parents dropped me off at Walker Tower and ushered me into a new season of life.

My family history is an important part of my educational journey. My parents raised me, loved me, and pushed me to fight for the future I wanted, just like they had. Additionally, my parents always valued the idea of education and the promise it carried of infinite possibilities that sadly, they weren’t afforded. In retrospect, it truly is no surprise I chose to become a teacher. From a very young age, I knew that I had to do well in school. Not just for myself, but to honor my immigrant parents and the many sacrifices they had made for me. One of the greatest longings of my heart has always been to prove to my mom and dad that I was worth it. Even though they’ve told me I was, am, and continue to be, I can’t help but want to keep proving to them that I am as resilient and driven as they are. If anything, I want to show my parents how proud I am to be their son; their American dream. As a first-generation college graduate, I’ve been able to contribute something so special to my students that my parents instilled in me, which is a deep sense of pride and respect for education. By sharing my journey with others, I have been able to highlight the beauty of learning and the towering walls it can tear down.

Do you want to know something incredible? Your legacy starts now. My parents have gifted me a legacy of hope and opportunity. I get to carry that forward and add to it as I continue to grow. During your time at the University of Oklahoma, you will be challenged, encouraged, and presented with so many opportunities. Try all the things, make new friends, laugh and cry as much as you can because it will be over in the blink of an eye. My memories at OU are some of my most coveted, from joining my fraternity to participating in CAC Homecoming, Sooner Scandals, and so much more. I learned to see the value in others who didn’t look or speak or think quite like me. My college experience helped develop my sense of purpose and allowed me to grow deeper in my faith and for that, I am eternally grateful.

As you start to prepare for your journey at OU, ponder this question: What will my legacy be? As for me, a first-generation Mexican-American college graduate and educator, I will use my story to reach the students who look like me, who talk like me, and who have grown up just like me. I will lend my voice to the kids who are navigating multiple languages and cultures along with their childhood. I will empower those students who are sitting at the kitchen table with their mamás and papás translating government documents, setting up appointments, studying for naturalization exams, and trying to help cultivate a new home in a foreign country just like I did all those years ago. My parents have served as my greatest teachers and just like they placed me on their shoulders and allowed me to touch the sky, I will continue to lift my students, so that they may reach the stars. May your journey at the University of Oklahoma be filled with great breakthroughs and unforgettable memories. Live on, University!

Sincerely,

Juan Renteria Jr., M.Ed.
5th Grade | Head Teacher
Truman Elementary