An open letter, written by a first-generation, low-income Latino student, has gone viral, capturing personal struggles experienced by thousands of others just like him.
Guillermo Pomarillo, whose parents are undocumented immigrants, wrote about his experience on Facebook, after he felt his dentist belittled his admission to Stanford University by telling him that it’s easier for poor kids to get into Stanford.
“I nonchalantly said ‘I'm going to Stanford,’ Your initial reaction was surprised. But, were you surprised because you had a Stanford student on your chair or because you had a minority, low-income student, that needed government help to get braces, and would be attending Stanford on your chair? I believe it was the latter.”
Pomarillo details how after casually mentioning he would attend Stanford, his dentist began to undermine his accomplishments starting with his ACT scores.
“You immediately jumped to ask me what my ACT score was? It was weird cause I have never had a professional ask me that. I answered honestly. Your response after that clearly showed what you were thinking. You sarcastically said ‘Wow you got (blank) on the ACT?! And you got into Stanford?’”
In a follow-up Facbeook post, Pomarillo puts his score between 30 and 36, explaining that he remains in the ‘top 95 percentile in the country.’ The letter continues, ‘I was confused, I had always thought my ACT score wasn't too bad. I mean, I got admitted into many other schools other than Stanny.,”he wrote.
Pomarillo explains that he remained silent as the dentist, whom he doesn’t identify, continued to diminish his education by claiming that kids from low income neighborhoods have better odds of being accepted into Stanford.
“You said, "Well when you have kids from neighborhoods like THESE, like you know, ENGLEWOOD. It's easy for them to get into Harvard or Stanford with a (states my score)." In my mind, I was confused. Did he really just say that? But you didn't stop. You kept going. You said, "You know, when kids go to schools around here. (AKA public schools in minority neighborhoods) It's easier for them to get into schools like Stanford… He continued, "you're very lucky. Consider yourself very lucky. Getting into Stanford is like competing on The Voice, you know, when you get the buzzer."
Pomarillo lists the other schools where he was accepted.
“You're telling me that pure luck got me admitted into not only Stanford, but schools like Princeton, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and WASHU, and waitlisted at Tufts, Penn, and Columbia (I didn't tell him this btw)?! To say that I was admitted into a school simply because of my background is ridiculous.”
Pomarillo, who will be studying Biomedical Engineering at Stanford, concluded his letter by talking about the struggles his family had to face to put him through school.
“You belittled me. You labeled me. Yes, my name gave it off. But you were completely ignorant of my struggles. Little do you know that I grew up in a house where Spanish was only spoken. I had to learn English on my own. I grew up in a household where at times we couldn't afford to pay our rent or didn't have enough food for the whole week. I grew up in a household where my parents were clueless of the college application process, and it was up to me to make sure I submitted all my papers for college. I grew up in a household where college seemed like a distant dream. I grew up in a household where I will not only be the first one attending college, but I will be the first one to leave my home…. You are neglecting that all odds were against me. But you feel entitled to say that I got "lucky" and that "because of where I come from" I got into Stanford. Little do you know that at a young age I excelled in classrooms. My mother kept transferring me schools every time we moved to a new, cramped apartment. But I excelled. I went to a high school 7 miles from my house to be able to be pushed more. I attended one of the best high schools in Chicago and was accepted to other top ranked high schools in Chicago.”
He signs his open letter as: “The poor Latino boy that needs government help to get braces, but is still Stanford bound.”