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Hillsboro’s Homegrown Talent: Henry Reyes, Water Department Intern

Post Date:01/16/2018 10:37 am
Henry Reyes takes a tour of the Public Works DepartmentHenry Reyes is a product of Hillsboro schools — and the belief of his parents. Henry’s family has always worked hard to create a better life for themselves, and especially for Henry.

Knowing that circumstances don’t always set up young Latino students for success, Henry used his own drive to succeed. He saw some classmates fall into common patterns, like picking up bad habits and dropping out of school.

“I want to overcome those barriers and show people I can make it,” Henry said.

By participating in the AVID program at Liberty High School, Henry received extra support ─ the program helps kids who want to go to college but have a harder time getting there. The college-readiness lessons and new perspective helped him grow.

A self-described “give-back-to-the-community” person, Henry jumped at the chance to join Hillsboro’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC).

“As a kid, I thought the only way you could make a change was as the President,” Henry said. “When I joined YAC, I figured out I could be in other places in government.”
Intern Henry Reyes with Amy Meaut, Water Resources Specialist
Henry worked as an intern in the City of Hillsboro Water Department recently. He credits the internship and his supervisors with helping him improve his professional confidence and critical-thinking skills. Henry also discovered another way he could advocate for his community: with a career in public service and politics.

“All my worlds came together when Hillsboro had a debate about sanctuary city,” Henry said about his experience watching Hillsboro’s policymakers in early 2017. “I went to five City Council meetings, and I saw how the decision came closer and public comment grew.”

Henry was particularly happy to see some Hillsboro residents make the effort to listen to each other during the discussion ─ one of his favorite qualities about our community.

“We take the time to see people. Something always brings people together and creates a community. We all come together as Hillsboro,” he said.

Henry will be the first in his family to go to college — a goal his parents repeated throughout Henry’s school years. In 2017, Henry won the biggest scholarship offered by the Ford Family Foundation, which minimized his out-of-pocket costs while he attends the University of Oregon.

About 4,000 students applied for 107 scholarships that the Foundation awarded to incoming freshmen such as Henry. “I’m one of the first to experience the systems that support kids being the first in a family to go to college,” he said. “I wouldn’t have applied if I hadn’t been in the (AVID) college readiness program.”

Now in college, Henry is eager to support students who consider straying from achievement.

“The right path isn’t that hard to be on. I like sharing my story so other kids who were like me believe they can do it too,” Henry said. “When you start thinking you can do it and you’re prepared for success, even when no one in your family has gone to college before — and you see someone who has done it — you know you can do it.”

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