“I’m ready now. I feel like everything before this was all preparation, I have the blueprint. At a young age I got tired of doing the same shit and with something so powerful like art within my reach I’d be a fool to postpone it any longer,” Adrian says gazing into the window, he sees himself past beyond the concrete familiar streets of his childhood.
86% of CPS students come from a low-income household, while according to statistics from last year’s CPS graduate rate report, 74% of CPS class of 2016 graduated. But this does not come to my surprise, as this city has shown from time and time again, that the education of our inner city students is a vital priority to many advocates and educators in this city. But it’s the determination that many of these students have that has allowed them to escape the statistic of falling into the detriment of living in low-income communities. Current Eric Solorio Graduate, Adrian Vega, can attest to this proudly.
As we sat down to discuss his current plans for this new year, I couldn’t help to distinguish the drastic change in character he now carries. It seemed only yesterday this now 18 year old high school graduate, was just a child running around the fields of Senka Park. But now he sits with a confidence, the kind that only a man with great experience and wisdom carries.
As we began to discuss our experiences living in the Gage Park community, I asked him what were some of the reflections he has on his high school career and the accomplishments he’s received at such a young age.
“I’ve always made school a priority. I will admit, I’m a victim of procrastination and all that crap, but that’s never stopped my determination to obtain a Masters degree. Along the way I’ve obtained scholarships and opportunities in which I’m really grateful for. For instance, I was an intern for a national accounting firm at 17 years old, I don’t think it gets much better.”
When asked whether growing up in the south-side and being exposed to the realities of his community, had anything to do with the success he has now he added,
“I feel like I’ve been very lucky but at the same time I know I’m hard working and that’s why I’m here today. The experiences I’ve had living around here have built my character. There was a point in my life where I felt really shitty and it was occupying too much of my mind with negativity. I was catching petty cases, getting booked 3 times as a minor for the love of graffiti and other hobbies. But I’m glad I’ve become more focused and I’m surrounded by supportive people. I’m sure a lot of my peers feel the same way when I say it’s easy to get sucked into an “ordinary life” or caught up in trouble doings. I see a lot of dried out potential within my people. But my end goal is to come back. I wanna assist others to pursue their dreams because now a days anything’s possible.”
With that bold dreamer demeanor, Adrian has been able to refine his future with a positive outlook, revealing that now he spends his time productively. Adrian tells us he’s been focusing on developing his artistic craft, working both digitally and on paper.
“I get my inspiration mainly from music. It helps set the mood from when I’m working and my creative juices start to flow. I wish others could experience this,” he says. “But apart from that I really get inspired by my surroundings. I work on projects with friends or recreate photos of relatives. But now that I’m working harder on developing my craft and putting out more content, I hope to become a source of inspiration for others I see potential in. ”
This once debauched recluse, is looking forward to the future believing that even though he didn’t begin on the right path, it was all part of the blueprint to his success story. He believes that now that he has moved forward in his life on a more positive note, that he was able to connect and work alongside Senator Senator Martin A. Sandoval.
“Working for a politician has been great learning experience. It has exposed me to a new audience of inspirational public figures. I’ve volunteered to help campaign elections and the connection with Senator Sandoval has really made me think outside the box in terms of incorporating art and growth for the South West side of Chicago.”
When asked how he feels about the future of his community and what he wants to contribute to that, with a sigh he added,
“I really want to be able to bring art to my community and encourage people to push themselves outside what they typically see. I’m fortunate enough to have this duel identity, where I’m able to connect with business men and carry conversations with influential people in the city, and then I am able to come home and hang out with my neighborhood friends. I want them to have this too. But I know it’s going to take some time. So for the meantime, I’m going to set the example and I want people to see that there is more to life, and you don’t have to change who you are to pursue your dreams. You just have to believe in yourself and stay focused.”