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 spent his childhood. Las Moras is situated between Tlaltenango and Tepechitlán, towns which are 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

When Mr. Bañuelos was 5 years old, his father started taking him to the field every day at dawn, during the planting season, to help him plant corn. When it was time for the harvest, 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 school. One day, Fernanda Dominguez, a young woman who was the only literate person in Las Moras, offered to teach reading and writing, in her house, to any child whose parents wanted their children to learn. Many 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 as the parents were. Therefore, they wouldn’t need to know how 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. Even so, his mother insisted. Although the classes lasted only six months, because Fernanda was a gifted teacher, 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 THAT HE WOULD NEVER LEARN ENGLISH, 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 attended the Escuela Primaria 16 de Septiembre, the first school that he had attended in his life. Since he loved books and studying, he excelled in school right away. Two years later, his father decided to bring the family to Los Angeles where he had already settled. Mr. Bañuelos didn’t want to come to the U.S. because he was afraid that he would never learn English, and because he didn’t want to leave his studies. Therefore, when he found out that he and his family were going to come 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, Mr. Bañuelos’ parents didn’t leave him in Mexico for obvious family reasons, and because they knew 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 had been in the U.S. for about two years and 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 give the graduation speech in both English and Spanish. Since Mr. Bañuelos’ English was still very poor, some teachers didn’t want him to give it in English. He didn’t want to give the speeches at all because, besides his poor English, he had a phobia of speaking in public. That’s why he knew that if he were to do it, he would fail which would make the Teacher look ridiculous. Moreover, Mr. Bañuelos’ parents didn’t have the money to buy the suit nor the shoes that he would need for the speeches. However, the Teacher convinced Mr. Bañuelos to give them, convinced the other teachers to let him try, and one week before graduation, with his own money, he 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 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