Klein High student ignores physical limits, thrives
Though starting at a new school, in a new country, while learning a new language and a new educational system can be overwhelming, Klein High School freshman Oswaldo Guzman was not fazed.
"Coming to a school like Klein was a little overwhelming," said Oswaldo, who was born with disabilities and is in a wheelchair. "But it has helped me to learn that you're not always going to be in a place where everything is set for you, and you are going to have to find a way to adapt."
Guzman moved from Venezuela last year with his family after his father got a job as a chef at a local restaurant. Despite all the changes, he felt the move couldn't have come at a better time.
"I was excited to move here because it wasn't safe, and where I grew up, it was harder for those with disabilities to get around. Here in the States, however, there are a lot more opportunities and accommodations for me and my family, and it was a chance for a new start for us," he said.
According to Limited English Proficient teacher Michael Votsmeir, he is unlike any other student Votsmeir has taught in the past.
"He's an extremely articulate and sharp student," said Votsmeir. "He is passionate for topics like government and politics, and he sees and understands things in such a unique way. The other students have also embraced him as an equal, and it has become an advantage to all of us to have him in the class.
"Being a student with disabilities hasn't really affected him either. It actually pushes him to work harder, I think," he added. "Often people in his situation would just give up or settle for mediocrity, but not Oswaldo. He's aiming for the top, and there is nothing that is going to get in his way."
In Venezuela, students typically studied up to 14 subjects during a school week, with a different teacher for each subject. However, at Klein, his schedule includes English, reading, chemistry, U.S. history and French. After only two years of studying English, he's able to hold conversations nearly fluently.
"Here in the U.S., teachers like Mr. Votsmeir and Ms. Kompelien are very caring and helpful, and the way they teach makes it easy to understand, and they are willing to work with you so that you can learn the material," he said.
"Although physical handicaps exist, Oswaldo never uses that as an excuse," said Principal Larry Whitehead, noting that Guzman is a model of good character. "I know the exceptional caliber of students and teachers we have here at Klein High, and I commend Oswaldo and have the utmost admiration for the fact that he is able to adjust to the atmosphere of the school and the challenges we all face daily."
Guzman, on track to becoming an honors student, plans to master his third language next year by taking Pre-AP French II. He also plans to one day become a criminal lawyer. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, helping at his father's restaurant, and visiting friends and family when possible.
"People here are so nice and friendly," he expressed. "Everyone always says 'hello,’ 'have a good day’ and I just love the people and the culture here. They really make you feel right at home."
Local Advertising by PaperG