Posted on November 8, 2023
Categories: Student of the Month

Meet Yesenia Perez, a shining example of resilience, tenacity, and willpower. Yesenia is not just an ordinary student; she’s an extraordinary beacon of hope at One Bright Ray Academy’s Simpson Evening program for adults. After years away from the classroom, she decided to hit the books again and in doing so, she completely transformed her life.

Yesenia’s journey hasn’t been an easy one, marked by a challenging past. Life dealt her a tough hand early on, with her having to drop out of high school due to circumstances beyond her control. She spent her middle school years juggling between the United States and Puerto Rico, which caused her to fall behind. Becoming a mother to two children at a very young age meant that school had to take a backseat. And then, as a stay-at-home mom of three, she faced the unthinkable – the loss of her 2-year-old son to gun violence. During these testing times, school understandably fell down her list of priorities.

However, the winds of change began to blow when she encouraged her cousin to return to school. Seeing her cousin take that brave step reignited Yesenia’s own flame of learning. Inspired, she decided it was time for her to reclaim her life and education. This marked the turning point in Yesenia’s life journey, opening a new chapter filled with hope and promise.

Yesenia’s unwavering commitment and leadership didn’t go unnoticed. Kareem Edwards, the principal at One Bright Ray Academy – Simpson Evening, was all praises for her. In his words, “In my first year working with the students, Yesenia has proven to be an inspirational leader and a welcoming force. Her passion for her role as the Student Council President transcends her title – it’s a glowing testament to her character and her steadfast commitment to making our school community the best it can be.”

A particular instance that truly shines a light on Yesenia’s potential is her spearheading the OBR’s September activity for Hispanic Heritage Month. Despite having a mere week’s notice, Yesenia rose to the occasion, pulling together a culturally vibrant event that celebrated the rich Hispanic heritage of the school’s students. The event was a hit, introducing staff and students to cherished childhood snacks of the students, and in the process, serving as a beautiful testament to the diversity within the school. Yesenia’s aptitude for quick action, her ability to engage the community, and her knack for making meaningful connections with her peers are a testament to her incredible leadership skills. She has an uncanny ability to harness resources and ensure that every initiative is thoughtfully planned and meaningful.

In this friendly and exciting journey of life, Yesenia Perez stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us all that it’s never too late to turn life around and chase our dreams.

Yesenia’s contributions extend far beyond her impressive role as the Student Council President. She has taken the initiative to lead the creation of the first-ever yearbook for the graduating seniors, a project she is deeply committed to. Her tireless efforts in planning the activity and resource calendar have been invaluable to our community.

But Yesenia’s gifts go beyond her leadership and organizational skills. Her heart of gold shines brightly through her actions. Demonstrating kindness and generosity, she once stepped in to help a 69-year-old fellow student by providing them with a personal laptop. This selfless act ensured that the student had the necessary tools to succeed, shining a light on Yesenia’s commitment to inclusivity and compassion.

Yesenia Perez is truly a one-of-a-kind student and leader. She is a thoughtful collaborator who inspires those around her, and a compassionate advocate for her peers. Her dedication and impact on her school community are profound and lasting.

But Yesenia’s dreams extend beyond the school gates. She plans to start her own business as a notary public, offering mobile services to her clients. She’s not just on a path to personal greatness, but is paving the way for her family and children as well.

Yesenia’s story is a thrilling tale of resilience and determination, a testament to the power of education and the human spirit. Her journey continues to inspire us all, reminding us that it’s never too late to chase our dreams and make a difference.

We asked Yesenia some of our favorite questions: 

What does being named Senior of the Month mean to you?
Wow. Where do I begin? It means a lot to me. It means It means I’ve proven to be the best I can be. This journey has been very inspiring to me and others. It is an honor to be October Senior of the Month of the School District of Philadelphia. Being Senior of the Month means I made it! It proves that my past doesn’t define me. It made me stronger and wiser. I’m 25 and I made Senior of the Month for the School District of Philadelphia. So for my readers, this message is for you. It’s never too late to accomplish your dreams.

Why do you think you were nominated for Senior of the Month?
To be honest, I didn’t even know the adult program could also be a part of being nominated for student of the month. I would say I got nominated because I worked really hard and never gave up even when life threw me lemons. I made sure my classmates, who faced difficult situations, wouldn’t give up either. Being a parent of a high schooler and middle schooler and attending high school is tough. Big challenge. Big step for me and my family of four, but exclusively for them I made it this far.

You were nominated by Principal Kareem Edwards. Explain your relationship to them. Why do you think they nominated you specifically?
Principal has earned everyone’s love and respect at OBR. I’ve only known him for a lil more than a month and a half now, and I feel like I’ve known him for years. He has been so involved at school since the first day he arrived. He made a great impact on me and many others at school including the teachers and staff. I mean he has turned this school around for the very best of all of us. This school really needed a principal like Mr. Edwards. He makes OBR a safe space for us all. He encourages creativity. He helps and stays connected with everyone. Mr. Principle nominated me because I believe he thinks I’m a truly inspiring leader. I make sure as student body president that every student is being heard, and that every opinion matters. That every student comes with the intention to finish with a big bang! Mr Edwards is the best principle OBR has had and deserves a big thank you every day at school. I speak for the whole school when I say you have touched everyone’s heart including mine. We appreciate you and thank you for everything you have done for me and the whole school since your arrival.

What is one thing you’d like to share about yourself that most people don’t know about you?
I’ve faced many obstacles over the years. I’m a proud parent of three kids and a happy wife at home. I lost my oldest son to Gun violence, won’t go into details and almost lost my other two kids to the system back in 2011. I had to face my demons head-on, but hoping and praying and with my head up high I made it though with my babies and family. I still have days where I can’t think, eat or sleep but with the love and support | received, I saw my days getting brighter and better. I remain strong. I stand here today to tell you all my story, because after what I had to endure in my life, I still managed to get back on my feet and live with the fact that life is precious, I couldn’t give up on my babies. I’m grateful for waking up every day and seeing them grow, for this opportunity to get my high school diploma at age 35. I did it not only for myself but for my kids and family. This is for you Javielito forever Nathan and Maylanie. “May you have the knowledge to find your purpose and courage to make a difference”.

What do you enjoy most when you are not at school?
When I’m not in school, I enjoy karaoke, I love to sing my heart out, especially when I’m cleaning and spending quality time with my loved ones. I’m 35 but still go on dates with my husband, keeping the love alive. Intake my kids out to new places and have fun.I love watching tv. I love watching series, my favorite categories are mystery, horror and drama. I have movie nights at home game nights on Sundays. I love to watch football and baseball. Let’s gooo Birds!

In your opinion, what is the best thing about attending school at One Bright Ray Academy – Simpson Evening?
The best part about attending OBR evening school is that every day walking through their doors, I get a hello, how was ur day or how was ur weekend? I genuinely get love every day. I’m going to miss everyone here at OBR. I will miss all my classmates. I feel right at home. My days as president at OBR changed my life. I’m just so very grateful for everyone, I hope to stay connected with them after I graduate. My graduating class is gonna be lit. I can’t wait to see us walking down together. Also, a Special shout out to my teachers, I’m so grateful for each and every one of you guys, and because of you guys I graduated with honors and an amazing mindset. They are determined to lift us up. I’m leaving OBR brighter than when I came in, and I’m forever grateful for that.

In your opinion, what is one thing that the School District could do to improve our service to students?
Well for starters, a night school bus for students. I know it’s night but it’s exactly my point. Honestly, I have my own vehicle but I’m speaking for all students that have to take a Septa bus after dismissal. It’s after 8:30 pm and it’s dangerous at times especially since we are not allowed to bring protection due to rules and regulations which it’s understandable. But it’s not safe. One thing we always say at school is that we are all OBR family so we should be able to take care of ourselves and each other. Another thing is 3-day attendance. We are all adults. We try our best to make it to school but there are times where we can’t just make it due to our personal lives. It’s hard enough to make it at 4:30 pm after work or personal agenda. I think 3 days in a module is not fair or enough time. This high school for adults it’s our second chance to make a difference in our lives and we appreciate the school district for the opportunity given us. We are honored but it’s safe to say have a crack at it and make a difference. I just think some personal situations should be excused. Also, Students who come in for the first time have a difficult time logging on to laptops, some of us adults either never even held a laptop, others have a hard time trying to understand the concept of the subject and don’t understand. so with tutors or assistance in the classroom would help our teachers not get interrupted by teaching the class. I had to step in a lot of times to make sure students were logging in and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to help cause I definitely helped others when needed, just that it takes up others time of learning. It would really help the learning environment.