PROFILE OF JESSE J. BAÑUELOS

Jesse J. Bañuelos is very proud to have been born in an adobe hut in Las Moras, a ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico, where he also lived during the years of his childhood. Las Moras is situated between Tlaltenango and Tepechitlán, small towns which are about half a day, on foot, from Las Moras.

IN MEXICO, HIS FATHER TAUGHT HIM TO WORK BY TAKING HIM TO THE FIELD TO TOIL ON THE LAND WHEN MR. BAÑUELOS WAS 5 YEARS OLD

As soon as Mr. Bañuelos turned 5 years old, his father started taking him to the field every day, at the break of dawn, during the planting season, to help him plant corn. When it was the harvesting season, they would also toil in the field from sunup to sundown. That’s how Mr. Bañuelos learned to work.

IN MEXICO, A Gold-Hearted, Young Woman Taught Him TO READ, TO WRITE, AND INSTILLED IN HIM A GREAT LOVE FOR BOOKS AND FOR STUDYING

No one went to school in Las Moras because there was no schoolhouse. One day, Fernanda Dominguez, a young woman who was the most educated person in the ranch, offered to give free reading and writing classes in her house to any child whose parents wanted their children to learn. Some of the parents didn’t want to send their children to Fernanda because when they were grown up, the parents expected their sons to be peasants and their daughters to be homemakers, just like their parents were. Therefore, their children wouldn’t need to read or write, those parents would say. Mr. Bañuelos didn’t want to go to the classes because almost none of his friends were going to go. Nevertheless, his mother insisted. Although the classes lasted only six months, because Fernanda had a gift for teaching, in those six months, and with only a few hours of class per week, she taught Mr. Bañuelos to read, to write, and she instilled in him a great love for books and for studying.

EVEN THOUGH HE DIDN’T WANT TO COME TO THE U.S. BECAUSE HE WAS AFRAID OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, HIS PARENTS BROUGHT HIM HERE BECAUSE THEY KNEW THAT A FUTURE WAS WAITING FOR HIM

In time, Mr. Bañuelos and his family moved to Tijuana where he began to receive formal schooling for the first time in his life at the Escuela Primaria 16 de Septiembre. Since he loved books and studying, Mr. Bañuelos excelled in school from the very beginning. After the family had lived in Tijuana for about two years, Mr. Bañuelos’ father decided to bring them to Los Angeles where he had already settled down. Mr. Bañuelos didn’t want to come to the U.S. because he feared that he would never learn English. Besides, he didn’t want to leave Tijuana because he loved going to school, and because he adored his teachers; although they very strict, they were also very dedicated. Therefore, as soon as he learned that his father was going to bring the family to the U.S., he asked an aunt if he could stay with her in Tijuana until he had finished his studies. Even though his aunt agreed to let him stay with her, his parents didn’t let him stay in Mexico, for obvious family reasons, and because they sensed that a future was waiting for him in the U.S.

IN THE U.S., A WISE AND NOBLE TEACHER TAUGHT HIM TO OVERCOME HIS FEARS, HIS INSECURITIES, AND TO FIGHT AGAINST THE IMPOSSIBLE

When Mr. Bañuelos was about to graduate from the Eighth Grade at Potrero Elementary School, in El Monte, California, Mr. Bennett, Mr. Bañuelos’ favorite Teacher, asked him to present the graduation speech in English and in Spanish. Since Mr. Bañuelos had been in the U.S. for about two years, his English was still very poor. As a result, some of the other teachers didn’t want him to present the speech in English. Because of his poor English skills, and because he had a phobia of speaking in public. Mr. Banuelos knew that if he were to present the speeches, he would fail completely, which would make the Teacher look ridiculous. That’s why he didn’t want to present them at all. Besides, his parents didn’t have the money to buy the suit nor the shoes that he would need to present them. Nevertheless, the Teacher convinced Mr. Bañuelos to present them, convinced the other teachers to let him try, and one week before graduation, with his own money, the Teacher bought Mr. Bañuelos a suit and a pair of shoes. 

On graduation night, after Mr. Bañuelos finished his speeches, the audience applauded him warmly. The applause lifted him to cloud nine because he took it as a sign that, despite his phobia, he had done well. When he left the stage, his friends congratulated him for his speech in Spanish. When he asked them about his speech in English, they told him that they had not understood much of it because of his accent, and because he stuttered and stumbled over words. “What about the applause?”, he asked. “They applauded you because you had the guts to get on that stage knowing that you were going to make a fool of yourself,” they commented. In tears and feeling like a total failure, Mr. Bañuelos approached the Teacher to apologize. The Teacher smiled and said: “Well done. Congratulations!” Confused, Mr. Bañuelos uttered: “I don’t understand, I failed you completely.” Again, the Teacher smiled and said: “someday you’ll understand what you did tonight.”

MR. JESSE J. BAÑUELOS’ EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE