"Limitations I didn’t even see evaporated at once."
Alejandro, Stanford University

Alejandro Ruizesparza

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Stanford University

I was born and raised in Chicago’s Southside, a little house in a great big city I still call home. Before my birth, my parents immigrated from Mexico — my mom from Queretaro and my dad from Aguascalientes. They were a young married couple looking to raise a family in the U.S., and did so with great love. Despite my mom’s English struggles, she played a vital role in my education with or without available translation. While in high school, I’d wake up in the early hours with my dad. He would drop me off at the subway before working at a building site as a contractor, an image I associate with the city and its growth at the roots. Both of us would start with a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in hand, off to give the day our best shot. My parents put in an immense amount of labor so I’d get opportunities they weren't available to them. Every accomplishment I’ve found is an extension of their work and ours to share together.

My mother sat me down one evening to talk to me about college, and her fears about its affordability. Not long after, a friend told me about QuestBridge and I applied with urgency. After days checking for QuestBridge emails after class, it arrived. I read it over a few times; I couldn't comprehend the acceptance at first. I called my parents moments after and told them I got into Stanford University. They needed to take a moment to understand the news as well, before making time to celebrate as a family.

Stanford was a place of immense difficulty and immense wonder for me. I struggled a bit at first, and for a brief time I felt unrooted. I struggled with a depression I had only then begun to acknowledge. I found myself overwhelmed by a class-consciousness exacerbated through the institution’s opulence. But I also found immense support from amazing friends and academic staff. I started an academic love affair with the social sciences, beginning with Psychology. I TA'd, started a psychological student club, and tackled issues of diversity through alongside the Diversity and First-Gen department.

At the end of my Stanford career, I'd soon find I was a recipient for the Marshall Scholarship. My course was now set for study in the United Kingdom and under two separate Masters programs. I’m completing my first program in Sociology at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Working with the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, I've been examining criminal desistance and rehabilitation within local, community service centers. Next year I’ll be continuing onto a Masters program in Data Analytics. 

QuestBridge and Marshall gave me chances I couldn’t have imagined when I was young. Limitations I didn’t even see evaporated at once. What comes next isn't yet set in stone. But I aim to be working within criminal justice and community empowerment while reflecting on my roots all along the way.