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July 11, 2014
Incoming freshman won scholarship Esperanza, Inc.
By Cindi Deutschman-Ruiz
For a kid who arrived from Puerto Rico at a very young age, struggled to learn English, had no art courses in high school, and never expected to go to college, Edward Valentin Lugo’s path to CIA held plenty of obstacles.
He blasted through every one of them, and is now looking forward to his first year at CIA. But he’s the first to acknowledge he didn’t get here on his own. Esperanza, Inc., a Cleveland agency dedicated to supporting educational achievement among Hispanic youth, played a key role.
Lugo first became involved there when he needed help learning English, but it was his involvement with the organization through high school that truly changed the direction of his life.
Much of the credit for that change, according to Lugo, goes to his mentor, Martinez E-B, a 2012 graduate of CIA, who worked for a number of years at Esperanza and is now entering an MFA program.
What Martinez remembers is that, for a long time, Edward neither made trouble nor stood out at Esperanza. But, then, everything changed.
One day, says Martinez, “he brought his guitar, sat down at a table, and started playing.” It was the first time Martinez noticed Lugo doing anything to draw attention to himself. “He suddenly became visible,” and Martinez encouraged it.
The two talked frequently, and increasingly about art. “I was always afraid of being critiqued,” Lugo says, “but he told me, ‘There will always be people who are better. Get over it. Be proud of what you’ve already done.’”
As Lugo worked on his portfolio for CIA – with Martinez continuing to urge him to stretch himself – he also took on a greater leadership role within Esperanza. He began staying late to go over curriculum with Martinez. He chose topics that interested him, and facilitated programs.
According to Esperanza Program Director Jesus Sanchez, Lugo became a kind of ambassador, encouraging others to get involved with the program. “He valued his own experience and wanted to share it with others.”
“Esperanza gave me what its name stands for,” Lugo explains. “And that’s hope,” which is something he very much wants other Hispanic youth to feel, too.
Esperanza also gave Lugo a scholarship toward college. With that hard-won award in hand, and a passion to evolve as an artist, Lugo embarks on this new phase of his life. His initial plan was to pursue his love of animation as a major, but now says he’s keeping an open mind. Considering the initiative and drive he’s already shown, and the obstacles he’s already surmounted, Lugo seems positioned to thrive at CIA.
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