Senior Spotlight: Rick Espinoza

Rick Espinoza is a 20-year-old senior from our Moreno Valley site at Rising Stars Business Academy.
Q: What brought you to YouthBuild? / Why did you leave your previous school(s) and what made you enroll at YouthBuild Charter?

Rick: School just wasn't working out for me anymore. I was about to give up completely. But then a family member who loved YouthBuild told me about it, and I figured I'd try it out. It's been amazing! YouthBuild gave me a chance to turn things around. Now I have a lot more options for the future, and I've had a great time too. Thanks, YouthBuild!
Q: What did you like most about your YouthBuild Charter School of California experience?

Rick: YouthBuild Charter School was a total game-changer compared to other schools. Forget stuffy classrooms and endless lectures. They had these incredible hands-on programs, like building houses, capturing stunning photography, and even creating music. It felt like there were a million paths I could take to build my future, not just the one-size-fits-all approach of most schools. They didn't just shove textbooks at us; they encouraged us to explore our interests and discover what we were truly passionate about. That's why I was never bored – every day was a chance to learn by doing and figure out what path I really wanted to take in life.
Q: What has been your favorite YouthBuild memory?
Rick: My favorite memory from YouthBuild definitely has to be the first day. Walking into the school and meeting all the staff, teachers, and students was such a warm experience. There was this incredible mix of people from different backgrounds, and it just felt like a big family coming together. I could sense the potential for new friendships and opportunities. It was like stepping into a world of endless possibilities, with everyone there being so amazing. I really hope everyone is doing well and thriving.
Q: How did your YouthBuild Charter School experience compare to your previous school experience?
Rick: YouthBuild Charter School was a total game-changer for me. My old school felt stifling, but YouthBuild was like a breath of fresh air. It was a close-knit community where everyone mattered, from students to teachers. I felt valued and recognized, unlike at my old school where I just felt lost in the crowd. At YouthBuild, there were so many opportunities to explore and get involved. It felt open and encouraging. It was amazing how each person, even in a big school, had a chance to stand out. If only all schools could be as supportive and community-oriented as YouthBuild!
Q: What are some of the skills/lessons you learned at YouthBuild Charter School of California that you think will stick with you after you graduate?
Rick: I've learned so much that will be valuable in my life. I used to be shy, but now I feel confident talking to anyone. Being a cashier taught me money management, which is super important. I even learned CPR, so I could potentially save a life! The school really emphasizes responsibility, and now I'm always on time and get things done. They also offer fun classes!  I learned photography, which could be useful in many ways.  Music theory and instruments have been a blast, allowing me to express myself creatively. On top of that, I even improved my typing skills a lot. Overall, I feel like I have a whole toolbox of skills now, ready to use in any situation!
Q: What did you think about the project-based learning at YouthBuild Charter School?/ Did you have a favorite CAP (community action project) or  APT (authentic performance task) you worked on? 
Rick: I loved YouthBuild Charter School's hands-on learning projects! They let me be creative, which I'm really good at. The best part was working on projects that helped the community and showed what we learned. One project that stuck with me involved making clothes for a classmate out of leftover stuff. It was awesome to turn scraps into something wearable, and it brought our class closer together. It was the perfect way to use my creativity and connect with others.
Q: Who or what has helped motivate you to graduate?
Rick: The biggest driving force behind my graduation was my own determination. Without believing in myself and setting my mind to the goal, I wouldn't have reached this milestone. However, I can't discount the support I received along the way. Both the faculty and my fellow students played crucial roles in keeping me motivated, especially during tough times. I want to extend a heartfelt shoutout to several individuals who made a significant impact on my journey: Ace, the fantastic teacher from Photography class; Jordan, who always inspired me in Music class; Mr. Jones, Ms. Joanna, and Ms. Riri for their constant encouragement; and special mentions to Ms. Alicia and Mr. Lincoln for going above and beyond to support me. I am deeply grateful for their kindness and guidance, which helped me stay on track and achieve my goals.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
Rick: After graduation, my plan is to work in a warehouse for a few years to build up some savings. I want to earn enough money to buy my first car and eventually get my own apartment. Once I've achieved those goals, I'll start focusing on my education. I've chosen Full Sail University because they offer a wide range of creative programs. I'm passionate about art, so I want to pursue a field that allows me to express my creativity. I'll be active online, sharing my work and connecting with others who share similar interests.