NBC Bay Area
Miguel Carranca said he thought about selling drugs to make money, but instead he found a job at One East Palo Alto.
East Palo Alto gets a lot of attention for crime and violence.
But when Miguel Carranza thinks of the city he lives in, he dreams of opportunity.
"My dream is to study medicine," Carranza said.
That may sound like a fairy tail ending to a feel good story, but this young man's life has been full of major obstacles.
Carranza was born at Stanford University Hospital 19 years ago. His parents immigrated here from Mexico.
The INS found out about his mother's illegal status and ordered her back across the border. At age 12, Carranza had to make an adult decision to come back to the state, without his mother or father.
"Even though I didn't want to leave Mexico, I wanted to stay there with my father," Carranza said. "We knew an education would get me out of the ranch."
Carranza said he thought about selling drugs to make money, but instead he found a job at One East Palo Alto.
Dr. Faye McNair-Knox is the executive director of the seven-year-old program that teaches youth and helps them find jobs.
"We know that there is a middle ban of young people who if they don't access opportunity to earn income in positive ways, they will choose crime," McNair-Knox said.
Carranza said he wants to become a heart surgeon. He hopes to reach that goal 15 years from now.
One East Palo Alto is holding a lunch fundraiser at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto on Friday.