Kennedy Trevino can.
She’s an A.C. Jones graduate this year.
When she—yes, Kennedy is a she—was a child, she broke a music box. Fearing what her parents would say, she took it apart then repaired it as good as new.
Because of her guilty conscience, she confessed to her parents what happened, but the episode was one of her first nudges toward engineering. The next was in junior high, when she discovered an interest in math.
“I wasn’t very good at it,” she says, “but it made me want to be good at it.”
IN AN AGE when most of today’s girls, despite the advantages of the Internet, opt out of science and math because it isn’t “cool,” Kennedy leaves later this year for Columbia University, where she will major in civil engineering on a full scholarship.
She is the daughter of Onie and Kathi Lopez. Onie is a lab technician for the water department; Kathi is a secretary at FMC Elementary. She has two brothers and one sister.
“I didn’t even think about Columbia University,” Kennedy says, “until I started getting material from it the mail—material the size of a book.”
In a high school senior year full of activities and events that compete for attention, it’s easy to forget things—such as application deadlines.
“I filled out everything on the last day,” she shyly admits, including writing two major essays and 10 shorter ones.
She emailed her application Nov. 8; Columbia accepted Dec. 12.
“I’m a bit intimidated by the size of Columbia,” she says, but that has not quenched her excitement.
IN LATE AUGUST, she will visit the campus for orientation—which lasts a week. “We plan to make it into a family vacation,” she says. “I know my mother is planning to go with me, and I hope my dad can, too.
“I was born and raised in Beeville. I think the change will be good.” Ninety percent of first-year students at Columbia live on campus, she says.
Her father, she says, is excited and proud, “but my mom is a little sad, too.”
Not that the full-ride Columbia scholarship recipient isn’t feminine. As soon as graduation gifts—in the form of money—starts arriving, Kennedy plans to use all her engineering expertise to get ready for the move to the Big Apple.
“I’m going shopping.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.
Application essay: The influence of a dad not there
As an infant swaddled in blankets, I had no clue that something was missing from my life. All I could comprehend was that in my mother’s embrace I was content. In kindergarten, when the class drew pictures of their families, I didn’t understand why the other children had another person when I didn’t. They drew stick figures with smiling faces and hearts for eyes with the word “Dad” scrawled on top. It was then that I realized that they had something that I didn’t, and to make up for it I put more colors and more glitter on my paper than anyone else’s. But it wasn’t enough; there was still a blank space.
When I was in second grade I was assigned a project to describe my parents. I went home confused and asked my mother what I should write. She talked to the teacher, resolving the issue, but not resolving my curiosity. I had to know who my dad was now. I begged my mom, asking, “Who is he? Why isn’t he here? Why doesn’t he want me?”
She told me that she was very young when she and my dad learned that I was going to born. My grandmother was ashamed and made us leave the house. We lived with my dad for a while, but I guess he decided to cast us off as well. My mom had to work every day of her pregnancy until the doctors made her stop. After she had me, she has worked full time since.
My dad wasn’t there for my first breath, my first steps or my first day of school. The only thing I received from him was a child-support check for $18 when I was seven. We never received another one.
I couldn’t fathom why he didn’t want me. Was I not good enough? I have strived to make myself better ever since I asked myself this question. I made perfect grades, read the biggest books in the library and was nice to everyone I came across. It still didn’t seem like enough. In junior high school and high school, I tried out for every sport. I was in volleyball, cross country, basketball, softball, track and soccer. I hung up my medals and ribbons on my wall and imagined what he would say when he saw them. But I was naïve; he never saw them.
My dad wasn’t there when I started high school; he never warned me about boys. As I sat in my room crying over my first broken heart, I couldn’t help but think that this is what he put my mom through. That lit a fire in me. I was going to make myself better—but not for him anymore. I was going to do it for myself, so I could say that I did it without him. I would no longer stare at the mailbox every year on my birthday waiting for a card that never came; it was time to prove myself.
At my National Honor Society induction, my dad wasn’t there. At my championship soccer games, he wasn’t in the stands. When I broke the school track record, he didn’t celebrate with me. When I was chosen as a Joe Barnhart Scholar finalist, he wasn’t there to pat me on the back. And I know that when I graduate, he won’t be there clapping for me.
But, I will hold my head high as I walk across that stage because I did this without him. I might thank him for indirectly pushing me to be my best in school and to never take anything for granted, but that is all I will thank him for. Although I did so much for a man that I will never know, at least I know that I can do it, and that I can do it without him.