Yeni Telles spoke no English - and as first-generation Mexican immigrant student at Los Angeles High School, no one cared. Assigned to “C Track,” few expected she’d accomplish much anyway, except maybe drop out of school, get married, and take a low-wage job to get by. U.S.-born Track A and Chicano Track B students could take courses that prepared them for college and other educational opportunities. Students on Track C barely knew other opportunities existed. One teacher, however, encouraged potential in his students. Yeni still remembers the day when he asked his class to share what their dream job would be, and she said she wanted to be a flight attendant.
“Flight attendant?” he said. “Why not be the pilot? The pilot drives the plane.” That day, Yeni began to imagine a future beyond what she’d been told to accept.