He’s president of the Miami Beach High School psychology club, but what about his own psyche? What drives Alejandro Ortega to succeed? It could be the responsibility he feels as an immigrant to this country.
“It’s an obligation for me as someone who was presented this opportunity, out of all the people that could’ve been presented these opportunities, to take advantage of them,” Alejandro said.
You can sense Alejandro has a chip on his shoulder. He has seized every opportunity with perseverance and an insane work ethic, earning straight A’s all through high school, while overcoming severe economic disadvantages.
“It makes me more passionate about my goals,” Alejandro acknowledges.
“From the moment he first walked into my class, I knew right away that this kid was going places because he was always working extra,” said his AP Psychology teacher, Melissa Balgobin.
His teachers knew it, his classmates knew it, Alejandro set the bar high for everyone.
“Above and beyond was his normal, and it’s not something you see every day,” Balgobin said.
“Especially with his determination to do well in school,” added classmate Gabi Rodriguez.
Among his peers, Alejandro is the go-to guy for help with school work and for moving something from idea to reality.
Classmate Melanie Haber approached him with an idea to form a human rights club, and Alejandro ran with it.
“Whenever he finds something he’s passionate about he is 100% in it to win it,” Melanie said.
Coming here from Venezuela, which is a human rights disaster these days, gave Alejandro extra motivation to found the Amnesty International chapter at Beach High.
“It’s something that’s very devastating to me on a deeply personal level,” Alejandro explained.
The senior has made it his mission to raise human rights awareness on campus. Among many other events, he organized an immigrant pride day.
“To make that statement that we are a diverse community and we will protect every single one of our students because they’re all important and bring something very unique to the table,” Alejandro said, pointing out that his school has students from all over the world.
All the activism and hard work paid off. Alejandro was accepted to the nation’s top universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. He chose Yale, and says if he can do it, anyone can with enough determination.
“Just because you may fall down 9 times doesn’t mean you can’t get up 10 times,” Alejandro said.
That attitude will serve him well in the Ivy League and beyond.