Porfirio Jauregui, 18, learned a lot about work from his father — who, at 14, ran the family farm in Mexico — and always felt compelled to live up to it.
“When he came to the United States, he wanted to create a better life for his kids,” Porfirio said. “That was a big thing for him.”
And when Porfirio started school, after teaching himself English by watching television, he was a naturally gifted student.
In the third grade, he said, teachers gave him fourth-grade textbooks.
“They said, just learn what you want,” he said. “They pretty much just gave me free rein.”
He moved to Carson City from Oakland when he was 9, and continued to excel academically, specifically in math. He will graduate Saturday from Carson High School and will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall — perhaps the first student in the history of Carson High School to do so on a full scholarship.
“I was really surprised to get in,” he said. “The school is very selective. I was super happy.”
The school already flew him in for a tour of the campus.
“I instantly fell in love,” he said. “It is probably the greatest college town in the U.S. It has a lot of history and a lot of character.”
And it fits his lifestyle, said the track and cross-country athlete.
“There are a lot of runners there, so that’s going to feel right at home for me,” he said. “And there are a lot of geeks at MIT. That’s just me.”
Before he takes off, however, he has to finish the final steps of his senior project, where he set out to raise $5,000 to bring computers and Internet access to a school in Ghana, Africa.
He said he feels a responsibility to help those less fortunate have access to education, especially having received donations from the community to attend national robotics and FBLA competitions.
“They gave me the opportunity to travel and compete with some of the greatest minds in the country,” he said.
And he knows the value of the internet to an education. For a while, he said, he could go to his mother — who attended high school — for help with his school work. But as he advanced, he was on his own, relying heavily on the internet.
“Essentially, I had the entire wealth of human information at my fingertips,” he said. “If you want to learn something, like the human genome, you can learn as much as you want about it. That’s just fantastic.”
He said his tuition of about $58,000 a year — more than his family makes a year — will be paid for, something he won’t take for granted.
“If I can get that to go to school, why can’t a school in Ghana get $5,000, which they can use to get a skill they can use for the rest of their lives?” he asked.
He has raised about $2,500 and hopes to raise the rest by the end of summer when he’ll leave for school.
Although his family members are excited for his opportunity, he said, they’re also sad to see their oldest child leave home. He said his dad offered his 8-year-old sister, Sarai, $10 for every goal she scored in her soccer game.
“She said, ‘I’m going to score a lot of goals so I can visit my brother in Boston,’” he said. “I thought that was so sweet.”