Glendale College's Student Magazine
Wednesday September 20th 2017

Alejandro Ambrosio: a DREAM-er runs towards his dream

Nineteen-year-old Alejandro Ambrosio pedals 10 miles each way from his home in North Hollywood to Glendale College and back. “In the fall semester I was driving here but my dad’ s car got messed up so I had to start biking,” Ambrosio said. “It is like part of my training now and it helps a lot.”            

Alejandro Ambrosio

His family moved to North Hollywood from Oaxaca, Mexico when he was 10. His dad, who has been working in the United States since the ‘ 90s, wanted them to be together as a family. “It was pretty hard moving here,” he said. “I didn’t know any English, I was the oldest so nobody could really help me and I didn’t know anybody.”           

Being the eldest of six children was not easy, especially with four sisters in the mix.   He often finds it chaotic, but at the end of the day, family is what is important.  His dad drives an ice cream truck for a living, while his mom has an ice cream cart she stations in front of schools to earn some extra money.             

He signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA) in 2012, which allowed him to get a work permit.  He works part-time at Jimmy John’s, a restaurant chain in Sunset Boulevard, to help out his family and pay for school expenses.             

He was cruising throughout high school, just doing enough to get by. Hanging out with friends and skateboarding was all he wanted to do, but in his senior year he started to look for something different – he wanted to do more.             

Ambrosio joined Students Run L.A., an organization that trains students to run marathons and provides them with an opportunity for physical, social, and mental growth.  Friends and teachers saw his potential and urged him to join the track and field team at his school, North Hollywood High School. “I saw running as an opportunity to better myself,” Ambrosio said. “Throughout high school, I did not really participate in any activities and I wanted to do something different for my last year.”  

Not having any plans for the future, running paved the way for him to go to college.  He heard that GCC has a great running team, decided to try his luck and talked to the coach, Eddie Lopez.

In 2015, he started in the college cross-country team and the following year, he made it to the track and field team.  “Alejandro and I first met at the summer of 2015 during our first-ever GCC practice at Griffin Park,” friend and teammate, Christopher Galvez, said. “Alejandro is a humble teammate who strives for the best and doesn’t follow the standards of others. His performance and attitude raise positivity within the team and motivates other runners to perform their best.”            

The team trains the whole week, running an average of nine miles a day and more as the season progresses. During the summer for cross-country, they train mostly in the hills of Griffith Park. They do a lot of speed work for the track and field team, doing fast workouts three times a week and 10-mile long runs the other days. “The most miles I have ever done in a week is 112,” Ambrosio said. “I bike a lot and do core training to get fit. No rituals or eating habits; I just believe in my training and do my best.”            

Last season, he finished in fifth place at the Southern California and Western State Conference and 20th in the State Championships. “For a person who never ran cross–country and ran one year of track in his high school lifetime, he became one of the fastest runners in the conference,” Galvez said. “During our WSC Championship, Alejandro was the only distance athlete to run the1500-meter, 5000-meter and the 10,000-meter on the same day with an impressive time and performance. He is just a natural runner that is born to become the best.”            

Ambrosio is a computer science major and his goal is to be a robotics engineer one day. When he is not in school or training, he’s at work at the restaurant.  Being a DACA student, he does not get a lot of support and financial aid from the government. He is currently seeking out university scholarships, hoping that running would pave a way for him to reach his dream. “The thing I like about running is that you’re not depending on anybody but yourself,” he said. “You can push yourself – you’ve got to push through the pain – it gives you a lot of mental strength. It shows you that you could do better in other things too.”

About Diane Roxas
Diane Roxas is a graduating student of Mass Communications at Glendale Community College. She is transferring to Cal State Northridge as a Journalism major in the fall.

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