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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 in his childhood. Las Moras is located between Tlaltenango and Tepechitlán, small towns which are about half a day’s walk 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 he was 5 years old, his father started taking him to the field every day, at the break of dawn, in the planting season to help him plant corn. In 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 READING, WRITING, MATHEMATICS, AND INSTILLED IN HIM A GREAT LOVE FOR BOOKS AND FOR LEARNING

No one went to school in Las Moras because there was no school. One day, Fernanda Dominguez, the most educated person in Las Moras, offered to teach reading and writing in her house to any child whose parents wanted their children to learn. Some parents didn’t want to take their children to Fernanda because when they grew up those parents expected their children to be farmhands or housewives. Therefore, their children wouldn’t need to read or write, those parents said. Although he didn’t want to go to Fernanda’s house because most of his friends were not going to go, his mother insisted. Because Fernanda had a gift for teaching, in only six months and with only a few hours of class per week, she taught him reading, writing, mathematics and instilled in him a great love for books and for learning.

ALTHOUGH HE DIDN’T WANT TO COME TO THE U.S. BECAUSE HE FEARED HE WOULD NEVER LEARN ENGLISH, HIS PARENTS DIDN’T LEAVE HIM IN MEXICO BECAUSE HIS FUTURE WAS WAITING FOR HIM IN THE U.S.

In time, his father brought the family to Tijuana where Mr. Bañuelos attended a school for the first time in his life. Two years later, his father brought the family to El Monte, Ca. Mr. Bañuelos didn’t want to come to the U.S. because in the schools they speak a strange language he feared he would never learn. He wanted to stay in Tijuana two more years to finish his classes because he loved going to the Escuela Primaria 16 de Septiembre, where he was excelling. His parents didn’t leave him in Mexico because his future was waiting for him.

IN POTRERO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, A WISE AND NOBLE TEACHER TAUGHT MR. BAÑUELOS TO BELIEVE IN HIMSELF AND TO OVERCOME DIFFICULT OBSTACLES

When he had been in the U.S. for two years and was set to graduate the 8th Grade at Potrero Elementary School, in El Monte, Ca., Mr. Bennett, his favorite Teacher, asked him to give the graduation speech in English and in Spanish. Since he spoke very poor English and feared speaking in public, he didn’t want to give them at all because he knew he’d make a fool of himself. Aware of his fear, the Teacher told him: “I have faith in you because you’re more capable than you think and if you try your best, you’ll overcome any obstacle.” Since his parents didn’t have the money for a suit or shoes for the speeches, the Teacher bought them for him. After the speeches, his friends congratulated him for his speech in Spanish. When he asked about his speech in English, they said they didn’t understand it because of his nerves, his accent and his stuttering. “And 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 said. In tears, he approached the Teacher to apologize. The Teacher said: “Well done!” Confused, Mr. Bañuelos said: “I failed you.” The Teacher smiled and said: “what you did tonight will help you get far one day.” 

WHEN MR. BAÑUELOS WAS STRUGGLING IN HIS LAW STUDIES WHAT HE LEARNED FROM HIS TEACHER AT POTRERO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HELPED HIM TO OVERCOME THOSE OBSTACLES

In 1982, after graduating from the university, he began to study law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, something he never even dared to dream that he would ever do in Mexico, much less in the U.S. However, from the beginning he felt like a fish out of water because many of his classmates were from money and from top universities while he was from very humble origins. To add to his grief, after reviewing his first assignments his writing professor warned him that if he didn’t improve he’d have to look for another career because he had not shown that he could learn to write like an attorney. She also warned him that if he didn’t raise his grades in the other classes he was struggling in, he would be expelled from Loyola. Because the Teacher taught him to believe in himself and to overcome difficult obstacles, he knew that he could graduate if he kept trying his best. Over time, his writing improved so much that in his second year at Loyola he was chosen as one of its thirty best writers, out of hundreds of candidates. [The certificate he earned for writing can be seen by clicking here] He also graduated and earned a license as an attorney. [His license can be seen by clicking here]

MR. JESSE J. BAÑUELOS’ EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

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