The son of the Fresno street vendor who was killed in March 2021 is now receiving the top honors as valedictorian of his class.
Perez says “Honestly, it was tough not having him around anymore but now that I’m a little bit more mature, I’m able to see certain things, his view on things, I now understand he made sure we were ok first. He always made sure we would be ok on our own. And just knowing that has helped me a lot,” says Perez.
On March 21st, 2021, His father, Lorenzo Perez, was shot in pure daylight, which lead Fresno to create the Street Vendor Association and the distribution of surveillance cameras to vendors. “He came from Mexico with the illusion of having a better life,” said Juana Vargas Perez, Lorenzo’s cousin.
Not having a father around to help him, Perez says it was hard to find the motivation to get through school.
“It’s still very tough. I wish I had someone to, you know, give me advice on things, and just someone, you know, I could still look up to, and become like him,” says Perez.
Like most immigrant parents, Perez still has memories of his father, pushing him to be the best, and even if he did not want to hear it, he says he will never forget his dad’s advice.
“For me, my dad incorporated a strong mindset within myself. I remember he would always sit me down, and I hated this, for some reason, I just hated it when he would sit me down and lecture me on things. I still remember it, this one time. I guess I was down about something and he said “Whenever you feel defeated, whenever you feel like you want to give up, remind yourself of who you are and what you represent,” says Perez.
Perez says this reminds him daily why he needs to work his hardest so he can grow up to be someone his dad is proud of and inspire others to never give up.
“Hopefully I can make something of myself. For each and every person that is supporting me, I hope they feel happy because they also helped make this possible,” says Perez.