Oscar Vazquez Quotes in Spare Parts
There were teams from across the country, including students from MIT, who were sponsored by ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded company. The Latino kids were from Carl Hayden Community High School in West Phoenix.
He had lived in Phoenix for six years and thought of himself as an American, even though he’d been born in Mexico. His parents had snuck him into Arizona when he was twelve. No matter how many push-ups he did or how fast he ran, he couldn’t outpace the fact that he was a fugitive, living in the country illegally, and therefore barred from enlisting.
As a NASA employee, she had become accustomed to working with engineers who conformed to a sort of industry standard: white, well educated, conservative clothes. These four teenagers standing in front of her signaled that the future looked different.
In his nineteen years as an ROTC commander, Goins had never met a finer student than Oscar. He embodied everything the military was looking for: leadership, intelligence, dependability, integrity, tact, selflessness, and perseverance. […] “Oscar had it all,” Goins remembers. “His only drawback was that he wasn't a U.S. citizen.”
I've got to create something that doesn't compete with other science centers; it's got to compete with the World Series and the Super Bowl. I’ve got to find a way to make science and technology cool.
The whole point was to give the guys a chance to accomplish something beyond what they thought possible. But if they showed up at the event and failed utterly, it would only reinforce the impression that they didn't belong in the contest in the first place. That could leave a kid such as Lorenzo with a permanent sense of inferiority.
For Lorenzo, the robotics team was like a new family. In some respects, Fredi and Allan were surrogate parents, constantly advising him and pushing him to do better. […] A team spirit had developed. Lorenzo wasn't the only one sitting in the front row of his classes.
Fredi was impressed. It was a practical, cheap, and ingenious solution. […]
“You did it,” Fredi said, clapping Lorenzo on the shoulder.
Lorenzo responded with a big smile. “I did it.”
“It needs a name,” Lorenzo said.
Oscar remembered Lorenzo’s choking on the glue fumes and suggested, “Why don’t we call it Stinky?”
The group also offered some of the same benefits of being in a gang. Now that he hung out with Luis on campus, Lorenzo found that other students were less likely to make fun of him.
It reminded them that they were doing something they had never done before. In Phoenix, they were called illegal aliens and pegged as criminals. They were alternately viewed as American, Mexican, or neither. Now, for a moment, they were simply teenagers at a robotics competition by the ocean.
But in this moment, Oscar realized that Lorenzo was intensely committed. Good engineering solutions had value. But, to Oscar, doing things that no one else wanted to do, toughing it out and being a soldier, that's what counted.
Stinky represented this low-tech approach to engineering. But that was exactly what had impressed the judges.
“If the really long list of immigrant inventors who have made this country and the world a much better place is to stop here and now, we will also likely become the newest declining nation,” one reader commented.
This extraordinary young man—a mechanical engineer who won a national competition, a person who can add something to America, who has a wife and family here, who is doing the right thing by going back to the country of his origin even though he has little connection with it anymore—is being told: America doesn't need you.
In reality, life is more complicated. The attention paid to the team as a result of their victory coincided with a backlash against immigrants in Arizona.