Justice

Latino Student Responds to a Dentist Who Questioned How He Got Into Stanford

Chicago native Guillermo Pomarillo has a lot to be proud of. He graduated high school and goes to Stanford University, but Pomarillo got the ultimate insult for his achievement during a visit to the dentist.

 

 

In a Facebook post, Pomarillo wrote an open letter to a dentist who appeared "surprised" to hear that his patient was admitted to Stanford:

 

"[W]ere you surprised because you had a Stanford student on your chair or because you had a minority, low-income student, that needed government help to get braces, and would be attending Stanford on your chair?" Pomarillo wrote. "I believe it was the latter."

Pomarillo was shocked when the dentist asked for his ACT score. The dentist expressed disbelief that he could attend Stanford, as his own daughter performed better on the test and wasn't admitted to Stanford:

"You then said, 'Well my daughter got a 35 and she didn't get into Stanford. She goes to [University of Michigan].' In my head I thought, 'Wow that's great, UMich is a good school.' But you didn't stop there, you kept going. You said, 'Well when you have kids from neighborhoods like THESE, like you know, ENGLEWOOD. It's easy for them to get into Harvard or Stanford with a (states my score).' In my mind, I was confused. Did he really just say that? But you didn't stop. You kept going. You said, 'You know, when kids go to schools around here. (AKA public schools in minority neighborhoods) It's easier for them to get into schools like Stanford. My daughter goes to a school where like 20 kids get perfect ACT scores.' I stayed quiet. He continued, 'you're very lucky. Consider yourself very lucky. Getting into Stanford is like competing on The Voice, you know, when you get the buzzer.'"

His dentist tried to argue that because he is a minority from Englewood, a neighborhood on Chicago's west side, that he was more likely to be selected and admitted to Big Ten schools. That's when Pomarillo debunked his claim. In fact, research has shown an increase in minorities pursuing higher education. A 2013 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 69 percent of Hispanic high school graduates from the class of 2012 went to college that fall, compared to 67 percent of their white counterparts.

Pomarillo, who walked 1.5 miles to his dentist appointment that day, responded to his doctor for trivializing the hard work that landed him a Stanford acceptance letter:

"Wait what? So you're telling me that 18 years of rigorous hard work is like going on The Voice. You're telling me that pure luck got me admitted into not only Stanford, but schools like Princeton, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and WASHU, and waitlisted at Tufts, Penn, and Columbia (I didn't tell him this btw)?! To say that I was admitted into a school simply because of my background is ridiculous. OF COURSE YOUR DAUGHTER WAS GOING TO SCORE HIGHER THAN ME. You're a dentist that can afford to send her to a school that will help her achieve a score like that. You're an educated dentist, with a college degree and dentistry degree. My parents, two undocumented immigrants that only obtained a grammar school education, couldn't afford to send me to private schools. Yes, I may have grown up in a neighborhood that doesn't have many young kids going to schools like Stanford. But it doesn't mean that people where I come from don't have the potential to succeed at Stanford. We deserve to go to places like Stanford."

He pointed out that even though his dentist's daughter scored slightly higher than he did on the ACT, he has likely overcome more challenges compared to her and other students.

"But, she literally scored a few points higher than me. If those few points mean that she is better than me, then you are neglecting a lot. You are neglecting that I faced more struggles than your daughter. You are neglecting that all odds were against me. But you feel entitled to say that I got 'lucky' and that 'because of where I come from' I got into Stanford. Little do you know that at a young age I excelled in classrooms. My mother kept transferring me schools every time we moved to a new, cramped apartment. But I excelled."

Pomarillo's post has received more than 8,000 reactions and 2,400 shares on Facebook, with many commenters offering their support:

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ATTN: reached out to Pomarillo for further comment and will update this story if he responds.

[H/T Huffington Post]