This piece placed third for middle school submissions in the Ánimo Voices Competition, which invited students to write about innovators, upstanders, visionaries, or rebels that have made a difference in their local or broader communities. The competition was an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing and art.
by Isabel J. Menéndez
Eighth Grade, Ánimo Western Charter Middle School
Someone who impacted my community was Carlos Segovia. He was a 19 year-old Marine from South L.A who was shot and murdered in a drive by on September 16, 2016. Segovia was born in El Salvador and came to the U.S. with his mother; they later became American citizens. After he graduated from high school, he joined the U.S. Marines and earned the rank of Lance Corporal. Carlos Segovia was on military leave from Camp Pendleton when his life was unfortunately cut short by three alleged gang members.
Before his tragic death Carlos helped my city, which was also his. He worked at L.A on Cloud 9, which helps the Los Angeles homeless community and stray animals. Segovia was the leader of a youth group called Teen Project which, according to a close friend of Carlos, was “another sector of L.A. on Cloud 9 dedicated to helping the homeless community… it was really to get more youth involved in advocacy and outreach…” The friend recalls every Friday afternoon they would go to places like Skid Row and Broadway and give out care packages. They called them ‘blessing bags’ because they would put notes with encouraging words inside. Cloud 9 went to Skid Row and Broadway because there a lot of homeless people in that area.
Carlos was also a junior counselor for USC Troy Camp where he mentored the children who participated at the camp. One of the teachers at Ánimo Western CMS, Ms. Jacobs, was part of the USC Troy Camp as well and she knew him personally. In a letter, Ms. Jacobs explains, “… I had the honor of working with him while I attended USC for college. Carlos attended Troy Camp, and I was a counselor for the organization. His nickname was ‘Hedgehog,’ and he was an inspiration to both counselors and campers within the organization.”
Everyone in his neighborhood knew him for his volunteer work. The mothers in his community probably used him as an example for better behavior, saying things like, “Why can’t you be more like Carlos?”
Carlos Segovia had joined the Marines after graduating from James A. Foshay Learning Center and after all his volunteer work. According to Los Angeles Times, “…the commander of his training battalion told mourners about how selfless he was.” Lt. Col. Kory Quinn went on to talk about how Segovia performed underwater drills that almost drowned him. The lieutenant said that the only way that Carlos was able to get through his months at the Marines was by thinking about the other soldiers.
To honor the fallen soldier’s memory, Get Lit created an award in his honor: The Heart of Compassion award. The Get Lit website says he was an, “…advocate for animal rights & eradicating homelessness…” This award is given to high school seniors “…who [exhibit] traits of Carlos’s kindness” and want a job that requires a college degree but need financial support. The award gives the winner a scholarship fund.
Carlos Segovia impacted my community because he tried to make a difference and trying is all that really matters. His work might seem small to some and people might say all he did was volunteer work but I truly believe he helped our city. I’ve read a lot about him to be able to write this and I feel like I know the person he was from all the actions he took. Carlos Segovia was someone who wanted his people thrive, he wanted everyone to have a chance at happiness. And although he didn’t have a happy ending himself, he is a reminder to all that we can do better. When Carlos Segovia was alive no one was thanking him for his work; however now that he’s gone, he has dozens of articles written about him. Why did it take his death for people to give him the recognition he deserved?