21-year-old Raul Bravo is an auto mechanic at a car dealership in Chicago.
Back when he started high school, Raul never thought he’d have a career working on cars.
But then Raul met Clairene Terry, an Automotive Technology teacher at Schurz high school.
At StoryCorps, Raul told Clairene just how close to dropping out he was when he enrolled in her class.
Click here for the transcript.
Clairene Terry (CT): When I first met you, the counselors told me your history: F student that's not coming to school. And these were my words: "I'll take a shot at it." And the first 10 weeks, you just sat back and just watched. And I came up to you, and I told you, "You have a decision you have to make. You've either got to go do what you said you were gonna do, or you're just—you're off my roster." And you made up your mind. Your grades started to swing up, your attendance started being consistent, you were there every day.
RB: Yeah, everything seemed--this is where I belong. I felt like a walking star in the hallway. Everybody will notice you, you know? You're one of Terry's students, and you get respect. I felt more confident that if I could do better in this class, let me try in my other classes.
CT: [Laughs] I'm glad that you were willing to stick it out because I got into teaching with the intent of helping students a lot like yourself who were standing around, trying to make up their mind.
RB: When I first walked into your class, I didn't even know how to do an oil change. Did not have a clue.
CT: Come a long way since then.
RB: Come, come a long way. I got a lot of inspiration from you, and right now I'm taking care of my sister. She's a teenager. So it's a really tough time for her right now, so I'm trying to help her make the right decisions. If I could just see that she does well, that would just be a tremendous feeling.
CT: Yeah, it is. I watched you grow up into a fine, very respectable young man.
RB: I didn't think it could be done. I was just, you know--you're amazing, Ms. Terry.