Central Falls, R.I. __ At his high school graduation, Juan Pena stood out. He was one of those talented students who shined a little more brightly in the already shining moment of secondary education.
“I had like three little strings on me [honor cords], and they only had two,” Pena says of his classmates, “And I wasn’t gonna be able to go to my dream school.”
The high-school senior was about to graduate Central Falls High School with a track record that gleamed with achievement. He was in the top five students accepted to Rhode Island School of Design for the upcoming fall. He had received a Gold Key award for his portfolio. He was a member of the National Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society. All these accomplishments proved disheartening rather than empowering, however, when he was the only NHS member in his class who wouldn’t be attending his school of choice.