“I went into Summer Search as a student, and I came out more of myself as an individual,” said Jimmy Salgado Juarez, age 17. “Before Summer Search, I didn’t really know what was out there for me.”
Jimmy, a Santa Rosa High School graduate, went through a particularly difficult time during his childhood. “Our father abandoned us when I was very young,” he said, “and when he left, he siphoned off all of our assets and all of our money. So we ended up homeless for a while when I was about 2 years old. After a while at the homeless shelter, we moved in with a friend, and my mother – I still don’t know how she did it basically all by herself – got us out of homelessness.”
During his sophomore year of high school, Jimmy heard about Summer Search. “I remember thinking that two free trips was quite an amazing offer, so I applied for it, and I got it,” he said. “I went to the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming for a month, and then I went to Greece for another month. The wilderness trip taught me how to be a good leader, and how to rely on my teammates more. I ended up getting our team lost on one of our hikes, and we were not only lost, but we were frightened, trying to cross a waterfall, and we didn’t know what to do. After that day, I included my team much more than I had before, and we got much farther than we ever could have gone.”
The next year, on his Greece trip, Jimmy says he learned to socialize more. “Unfortunately, I’m not the most social bird,” he chuckled. “But in Greece, I had a decision to make, either to participate in the events that were being offered, or to close up further into my shell. It was an interesting experience, because honestly you don’t realize how foreign you are until you can only identify items by pointing and saying, ‘that thing.’ But I came back from there feeling a lot more comfortable on my high school campus.”
Jimmy has served for the special Crab Feed Dinners benefitting the Santa Rosa High School Foundation. “They’re a very good program that supports our community,” he said. “And while I was working with them, I ended up going to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, which, honestly, I never really realized how much of a connection I have to it. When we were homeless, we’d always receive food packages, and I’d never realized they were actually from the Food Bank. So all of that was extremely familiar.”
Jimmy ran track and cross country, graduated with a 4.0 G.P.A.
In the fall of 2011, Jimmy matriculated to Colgate University in upstate New York. “I’m going to try to double major in chemistry and physics,” he said. “And I’m interested in internships for engineering corporations. I have an aspiration of becoming an engineer, and maybe working with a few companies who create more innovative technologies.”
And then Jimmy’s voice grew thoughtful as he said, “Someday I’d like to come back to Santa Rosa and become a member of the Santa Rosa High School Foundation, and organize more programs for students like myself, who wish to pursue an engineering career.”