“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I was seven years old when I saw my mom cry for the first time. Minutes before, we had boarded the bus home after running errands. Half a bus stop later, though, she realized she had left her purse. After getting the bus driver to make an impromptu stop, my brother and I ran back toward the bus stop and when our mom caught up, we broke the news that her purse was gone and in it all the money we had—including rent for the month.

Strangers stared as we consoled our mom. A few, however, generously gave us just enough money for the bus fare home.

I was seven years old when the strongest woman I know broke down in tears and when it dawned on me that maybe we were poor.

These acts of kindness and the helplessness I felt that day have stuck with me and shaped who I am. I made a commitment to self-improvement through education, aspiring to a future where I could help my mom financially, and sparing her the anguish that overwhelmed us that day. This commitment also goes beyond my own story. There are kids who are living a similar life to mine. I vow to uplift their lives with the belief that their present situation does not have to be their end story.

My resolve to uplift them is steadfast and unwavering. It reflects a belief that every act of generosity plants a seed for a future where opportunity and kindness can flourish.

— Angel Gonzalez