Sergio Romo has earned two World Series rings since joining the Giants, but his journey was far from easy. Now, Romo is sharing his story with low-income Bay Area students who are preparing for college.
Romo visited the headquarters of the Mission Graduates nonprofit in San Francisco to explain to youngsters how he battles prejudice and what inspires him to keep going.
Those in attendance donned caps and gowns decorated with the colors of their respective schools in the Mission District. They are high school and college grads who overcame enormous odds to earn the right to walk the stage.
Mission Graduates has spent the last 40 years preparing students for this day, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to help pay for these students' college education, students with the cards stacked against them, but with the will to plow ahead.
On this day, the students got a visit from No. 54. The San Francisco Giants pitcher shared his own challenges and struggles as a teenager in the town of Brawley, California.
“I have to admit, no, there really wasn’t much encouragement to go to college,” Romo told the crowd.
The Giants pitcher now sports two World Series rings and a never-quit attitude. He needed that attitude in college. Romo's school was in the south, where he was often a target of racism.
Romo remembers the day he was a pitch away from breaking the school strikeout record. His coach came to the mound and yanked him from the game. “He said, ‘No Mexican is going to set a record at my school. Especially one that doesn't deserve it.’”
The incident still helps motivate Romo when he's on a big-league mound, and rather than have the mission graduates see themselves in him, Romo says it's quite the opposite.
No. 54 said he sees “a Sergio Romo” in every one of the Mission Graduates students.
Mission Graduates is a recipient of a $50,000 grant by NBC Universal's 21st Century Solutions, a group providing grants in partnership with the NBC Universal Foundation. The program gives $50,000 grants to nonprofits that are coming up with new and innovative ideas. Apply here.