From Paterson To Harvard: How This Student Did It

David Velasquez received great news last December 13 which got his entire family to tears: The high school senior, who lives in Knickerbocker Avenue in Paterson, got accepted to Harvard University.

David said that his mom kept crying and that he cried more because his mom was crying. He added that his dad cried too.

His road from Paterson to Harvard was challenging for his family.

A difficult living

Prior to David being born, his parents were employed as home cleaners. Carmen Montoya and Isaac Velasquez, David’s parents, were not used to the manual labor, which was far too different from their homeland. They hardly spoke English, so they accepted the work they were able to find.

Then, David’s parents started their own business of house cleaning, which is still in operation now. They still do most of the labor, together with a couple of employees. This is their main income, but Isaac has another job delivering newspapers.

David is so proud of his parents working so hard to send him to a private school.

Family struggles

His parents decided to send him to private schools for quality education. David attended Pioneer Academy because of his scholarships.

David described a few of their family’s struggles, including his father who developed a benign brain tumor that left him disabled for 2 years after surgery, and his mother who got in a motor vehicle crash which resulted in back injuries.

Harvard material

According to principal Tufan Aydin, they were very happy and proud, but they already expected it.

When asked about his grades in high school, if he got all A’s, he shook his head. The teenager tried to avoid questions regarding his intelligence. He said that he hates saying that he is smart because it makes him uncomfortable. For him, it is about diligence.


David is just one of the examples of hardworking students coming from poverty and rising to the challenge. It is great that his parents supported him with his ambitions. No matter how intelligent a student is, the school is also an important factor in his or her success. This is why it is helpful if schools consider this article as a great resource to teaching their students better.