It was never a question that Stephanie Contreras-Reyes would take the most rigorous AP classes her high school offers. It was never a question that she would juggle these classes with a slate of impressive extracurriculars and weekly volunteering at two hospitals. It was never a question that she would apply to California’s top colleges, including Stanford.
And when her dad lost his factory job in March at the onset of the pandemic, it was never a question that the 17-year-old would do whatever was needed to keep her family afloat.
Her parents do not speak English, so she researched how to sign up her family for food and rental assistance at various community organizations. She held garage sales on the weekends, selling blouses and shoes from her South Los Angeles home and dropping off catalogs for Tupperware — which she helps her mom sell — to family friends.
But it wasn’t enough. So she told her parents that she wanted to take on shifts at the embroidery factory where her mom worked.
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