“I am the first one in my family to go to college so I had like no guidance”


Isaiah Ruiz

Clemente took this picture on his first day of college.

Clemente Gaspar was born on July 25, 1999. He was raised in LA, where he went to Animo Ralph Bunche High School and graduated in 2017. He later on went to Cal State LA to become a P.E. teacher and was the first one in his family to go to college and complete college.


Clemente wanted to go to college for his parents to make them proud and for himself and his own future. College was very hard for him: he struggled a lot since he was the first one in his family to go to college. He had no guidance or anyone to help him so he had to do everything alone and by himself. He later on adapted to it and it became easier for him.


Clemente used to grow up wanting to be a lawyer. He then changed his thoughts in high school when his P.E teacher helped him be the man that he is today and changed his perspective in life. He has now found his new passion because back then, thinking about being a lawyer used to bring him down and discourage him, but now that he has found his new passion he sees that being a lawyer wasn’t that difficult as he thought and he just needed to be passionate about what he wanted to achieve. Other than being passionate about being a P.E teacher, Clemente was also very passionate about basketball and even joined his high school basketball team.



Isaiah Ruiz: My name is Isaiah, I am 13 years old. Today is October 5th 2021, and I am speaking with Clemente, who is my uncle. We are recording this interview in Los Angeles, California. What made you want to go to college?
Clemente Gaspar: Uhm what made me want to go to college was, I think one of the main factors growing up was always, uhm, having my parents tell me about it.  They installed that idea in my brain since I was small, like literally like maybe like four or five before kinder if anything. Uhm, I’m honored and glad to say that I’m the first in my family or in our family here to, uhm, you know go to college and be done with college, uhm, so yeah, you know just pushing knowing, what uh that you know [inaudible], most of our parents of Latino students come from, uhm, different countries and, you know, they come to this country to give us a better future and, you know, it’s insane because they come to this country not knowing, well mostly, you know at least from our or my perspective not knowing like the language or anything or anybody and you know, they assimilate to like the world of a new lifestyle and it’s just like honestly, that’s like the least that I could do for them as like a way to show my gratitude towards their effort and everything and their sacrifices. And it’s not only that, it’s not only for them, obviously that’s uh, thats one of the factors, but another one is like for my own future, you know, like its also gonna like provide me more opportunities in different places and you know it’s beautiful to uhh, it doesn’t feel like work when you love what you do, you know, and that’s the goal, you know, to be passionate about something that you work and something that you enjoy and follow that and, you know, through college you’re able to do that and not only that but, like yeah, that was the main reason why I decided uhh to go to college.
IR: Okay, thank you. Is it difficult?
CG: Uhm, I would say it can be just like anything anywhere else, you know, you got to put in work for anything in life. Ummm I would say the GE’s the first two years, which are your general classes, are pretty simple, but once you actually go into classes for your major that’s where it gets a little more tough. But at the same time that’s when it’s more fun because you’re taking classes for what you’re going to learn and that’s what you enjoy. Like for example, with me when I started taking my major courses, my upper divisions courses, it was more fun, at the same time there was a little more work to do in some of those classes than in my gen ed, but I enjoyed it because it was like I was learning about what I’m gonna be doing which is be a P.E. teacher and you know, like just doing work about that so it didn’t feel heavy. It was just like learning what you are taught in class, what you applied and papers teaching some more, etc. So it can be difficult but it’s just really up to you and I would say just go and do everything with an open mind and be positive. 
IR: When you’re done, what is gonna be your job?
CG: I’m gonna be a P.E teacher and that’s my job currently. Not only do I want to be a P.E teacher but I also want to be a coach for basketball eventually. Right now, I am an assistant coach at a high school for basketball. This is going to be my fifth year being an assistant coach and it’s amazing, I love working with the athletes and the students and you know it’s just amazing so yeah. P.E teacher and hopefully coach at the same time. 
IR: When you were younger what did you want to do?
CG: It’s funny cause when I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer. I think up until high school I wanted to be that. I would always think like, “Oh for immigrant families I’m gonna go and fight for them, this and that.” I’m not gonna lie when I found out about the route to be a lawyer it discouraged me and I thought “This is too much” and then in high school that is when I developed more love for P.E. because of the P.E teacher that I had and it just changed my whole perspective in life and he helped me a lot into building who I am today. That is why I wanted to be a lawyer, but when I saw how much work it was it discouraged me but now that I actually look at it, it is not that much work. As long as you’re passionate about something, it is not heavy.
IR: What have you struggled on or are currently struggling with?
CG: Honestly I would say maybe the only struggle I’ve had so far in my life was transitioning into college and starting college cause, you know, as I mentioned earlier, I am the first one in my family to go to college so I had like no guidance. No one was able to guide me or tell me what to do or where to go for this. Obviously, you know, the process for applying for college and all that, you know, the schools help you but they don’t help with teaching like how to manage your time, how to manage your money, how to get a job. Things like that, you know, are things that I struggled with after high school. You know, like life skills. You know, like college I was lost my first semester, it was heavy my first year. It wasn’t as easy as it has been recently but yea, that was like my only struggle, you know, like adjusting and adapting to a new environment, more freedom, and it’s very different when you move on from high school. Now when you’re in college you get used to it and it becomes easier. 
IR: You speak about high school a lot. Can you explain how high school was for you?
CG: I loved high school, I enjoyed it. What I enjoyed most about it was that I did basketball for four years, it was a fun experience. One experience I really enjoyed was that the high school I went to, which is called Animo Ralph Bunche, uh during our junior year we went on a college trip up north and we stayed up north for about a week. Visiting different campuses up north, you know like Chico, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, Sacramento, and we learned how different the schools are and what they are and just how the campus is. That honestly gets you excited cause you’re like “Oh, so this is what college life can be like” and it gets you pumped up like, “Oh now I really want to go and can’t wait to get out of this.” That was one amazing time I had during high school and um regards to education it was good, it was smooth. I felt like it was pretty easy and the work was straightforward and understandable and I paid attention. Do your work and you’ll be fine. Obviously you have to enjoy it as well cause, you know, like high school goes by so fast and before you know it you’re an adult and you’re into life already. It was fun.
IR: What about middle school?
CG: Middle school was also fun for me. I had a different middle school experience than probably everyone else did. The middle school I went to, which is Animo Jefferson, we were the first graduating class of that school. When that school opened, we were the first class. When we were there we were the only sixth graders there, there was no seventh graders or eighth graders. When we were seventh graders, there was only sixth graders and when we were eighth graders there was finally seventh and sixth graders with us, like a regular middle school. So my experience was a little different than others. But I had fun and one thing I could really appreciate is that in both my middle school and high school, shoutout to them, the teachers were very caring and supportive, they really wanted the best for us and you could just tell their passion for teaching and that they really wanted to be there and help us out. I’m glad to see that some of the old faces are still there but yea it was also a great experience for me, it was fun. In terms of education, it was also smooth. Pay attention, do your thing, practice, do your homework and you’re fine. It was fun. 
IR: Do you think school back then is different than it is now?
CG: I feel like it’s very different, yea. Simply because of the era, the time we’re in now with technology, you know like now everyone has a phone now and it’s not like just any phone, everyone has an iPhone or a smartphone. Back then you know, some of us had a phone, and if we had phones it was like, it wasn’t no smartphone or anything, it was maybe like a flip phone at most. Something luxurious was like a Blackberry or an LG Flex or something. It is a very different time and there is more people on social media now. Social media is so much more popular and heavier now versus back then and there are just so many things now that I feel like influence so many students now to wanna, like, do things. It’s a very different world now versus when I was in middle school, so yea it is very different. 
IR: How was basketball in high school for you? 
CG: Basketball in high school was like oh man, I could talk about this all day. Like I mentioned, it’s honestly one of the biggest highlights in my high school career. I enjoyed it so much and like I’m saying, my P.E teacher was the same coach for basketball as well. Because of him, the way he taught us things, in basketball and P.E;, that’s what made my love grow for P.E. and basketball. Which is why I wanna be a basketball coach and I am an assistant coach with him. It was just an amazing experience and you just notice how it is more than just a game, its life skills and life lessons involved in there. Like I said, I could go on about this all day but I’ll just summarize it by saying how it was such an amazing experience because of him and it was awesome.
IR: How do you think if basketball is more competitive now versus back then? In general? 
CG: If we’re talking about like NBA yea, everyone says how it was more tough back then more physical and now its like any little touch is a foul, you know, but it goes both ways. You really can’t complain just because those are the rules now, that’s just what the rules are and you have to follow them. It is different. Nowadays, everyone just wants to shoot three’s. They lost fundamentals, you know, like what a true point guard is, playing in the paint, a center, you know, moves like that. Everyone just wants to shoot and be flashy with the ball. It’s very different nowadays.
IR: Who has been the kindest person to you in your life?
CG: The kindest person to me in my life? Oh wow that’s a tough one because there has been so many. I’d probably have to say it’s my mom. My mom has been the most kindest and most supportive. She’s been supporting me through everything. She’s just done so much for me and I could never repay her, you know. Obviously as well everyone you know, my parents, my siblings, you know anyone, people in my life. But I guess I’d give my mom the most kindest, you know, and it’s to anyone she loves. I’m saying it’s any mom. I’m hoping it’s every mom, you know they give everything for their kids without a doubt. It’s not just about you know buying things, it’s about showing love and giving your time. That’s what it’s about you know and being there. That’s exactly what my mom did for me and it’s one thing I’ll never forget so yeah, I’ll have to say my mom. 
IR: Who has influenced you the most?
CG: Same thing as the last question, there has been a number of people that have influenced me and you know everyone has their own way of being an influence on me, but for this one I’d have to say my parents. My parents because you know the way they raised me, like more my mom, she would always take me to church and would always tell me to follow this and follow the ways of church and God and I feel like that really helped me a lot and if it weren’t for that I’d probably be somewhere else or in a more unfortunate circumstance. I feel like the way she raised me and guided me through life helped me so much and I could say that um she was one of the biggest influences in my life definitely keeps me going, keeps my fuel going, so yeah.
IR: What made you get into basketball?
CG: I used to play soccer all the time before basketball, I was a soccer player, not a basketball player. I remember, um, in eighth grade, I had a little girlfriend at the time and she loved basketball. I started playing with her. I would play here and there with my dad at the park. When he would take me I was like whatever about it, I’d want to play soccer instead. So I was like, “Oh, I could play with her” and because of her I joined the team. In high school, everyone was going for soccer, there wasn’t many people for basketball. So I was like “Yea, I’m not gonna make soccer as a freshman so I’m just gonna go to basketball” because I wanted to do something and yeah, I ended up in basketball and I ended up falling in love with the sport and now I’m so grateful it happened the way it did and yeah I haven’t played soccer since. That’s what got me into basketball and I am so grateful it went that way, really am. 
IR: What is one of your happiest memories or your happiest in life?
CG: I have so many happy memories in my life, Let’s see, that’s really hard. I have way too many. I would just say thankful to have life and you know the people in my life. To see my nephews grow, my nephew, my niece, my little sister. You know they are the future of this world. Even my siblings, seeing them do good, grind and enjoy what they do. Parents, family, anyone. That’s what brings me joy, seeing my people happy and that they are good. I’ve had so much fun. I’ve had way too many good moments in life and I can’t choose one. But this is what makes me the happiest right now. 
IR: Thank you for letting me interview you.