“First of all I didn't know any English,” he said. “I didn't know anybody basically in town other than my family. It was just difficult.”
The once shy boy, who said at times he refused to speak for class presentations, is now an officer in several student organizations and regularly speaks publicly.
Serratos grew up in Guanajuato, Mexico, in a little town called Romita. It was a rural community where his family made a living raising cattle and farming.
As a child Serratos attended school for several hours in the morning and after that he took care of the animals and helped his mother with anything she needed.
“We never saw it as a curse or a disadvantage because we were used to it; I mean that was our life, we were happy …” he said. “We had great moments with my friends as a child but also difficult times. But I don't regret anything I went through. It was just an amazing experience and it is what made me who I am.”
Serratos said his father called and said the lawyer had set up an appointment with the whole family for residency. They sold everything they had in Mexico and came to the U.S.
The first year in school was a challenge, Serratos said. He spent a half year at Orr Elementary School as a fifth-grader and learned all in Spanish before starting the sixth grade at Boulter Middle School.
There, all of his classes were in English except a Spanish class and that was where he met Anne Stone, who taught Spanish and a class called Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a class that would play a big role in Serratos' life and progression from a shy kid to a confident young man.
He started the AVID program as a seventh-grader. The teachers told him at the time that the program would make his dream of attending college a reality, if he put in the effort.
“I was struggling and I saw it as an advantage,” Serratos said of the program.
Students in the program participated in two tutorial session a week plus three AVID classes. During the tutorials, students could get help with any subject that was not clear to them.
In the AVID class, they learned about many topics including study skills, note taking and communication.
Serratos said the effect of the program on his life has been tremendous.
“It's basically been the guide that has put me where I am now,” he said. “I mean before I was a shy person. Sometimes I even failed a class for not presenting.”
Today he's almost a different person in terms of his communications skills. In addition to being a student leader — he is president of the AMIGOS student organization and an officer in three others —he also does school announcements and hosts a television show for TISD TV.
This summer he will exercise his speaking abilities at the Dallas Summer II National AVID Institute. Serratos' speech was one of two selected to be given at the institute out of more than 1,500 speeches submitted. In the speech, Serratos will share about his life and the difference AVID has made in it.
“It's just telling people the program has actually helped me to accomplish what I wanted,” he said.
As he prepares to head to UT Austin, he said he knows it's going to be a challenge, especially financially, but he is ready for it.
“We're going to do whatever it takes,” he said of him and his family.
Mrs. Stone, who is now the AVID coordinator at John Tyler, said Serratos is hardworking, determined, and goal driven, but he also possesses a key ingredient — good character.
“This is my 29th year to teach school and stories like Eduardo's are why you do it,” Mrs. Stone said. “It's really wonderful to watch students just have that metamorphosis into young adults who you know are going to be successful.”