Senior Searches for Freedom


Gabriele Alers

Luis Pereira, Grade 12

In 2015, Luis Pereira and his family had to make one of the most difficult decisions of their life. After being faced with political persecution in his home country, Venezuela, he and his family of five packed their bags and made their way to Florida.

“People think that I just threw a rock at the United States map and it landed [here], but that is not the case. We came here counting on family, and they turned their backs on us,” said Pereira.

A few months after moving, Pereira joined the Wiregrass Ranch High School (WRHS) student body and is now in his senior year.

“I moved here September of last year,” said Pereira. “Thankfully everyone here, in the district and the county, have been absolutely amazing with us. We got a lot of help from all kinds of people and that has made everything easier. It has been harsh, but it is better than what we came from,” stated Pereira.

Although Pereira and his family were able to settle in Wesley Chapel and begin their new life, leaving behind family and friends is not the easiest thing to do. Pereira spoke about how he can’t go back to visit his family in Venezuela because he is here on political asylum, which has been rather hard on him. But not all communication ties have been cut.

“I have kept contact [with family] through social media. They recently got Skype, so that is a great way of communicating,” mentioned Pereira.

After finishing high school Pereira wants to go into the Medical field. Something he says he feels very passionate about is politics, though he cannot see himself getting involved in it.

“I see politics as something that often gets out of hand. It changes people,” sighed Pereira. “You get into that world one way, and you get out of there completely different; and I really do not like that.”

Though he does not think Politics is the correct path for him, it does not change the fact that Pereira has a voice and knows that he wants to use it.

“Coming from somewhere where I did not have the ability to speak out for what I believe in, and now being in America where I can say what I think is wrong or right, I feel slightly empowered, and know that I want people to hear what I have to say,” said Pereira.

When asked where he sees himself in five years, Pereira was quick to give an answer.

“I see myself still studying. I want to stay in Florida until I am at least finished with my schooling; I really like USF and FAU,” said Pereira. “I also see myself in political activism. Maybe not directly with politics, but influencing the system.”

Pereira elaborated on how exactly he plans on affecting change in national politics.

“I have contacted several organizations like the human rights campaign to see if I could do an internship when I get out of high school,” said Pereira, “I really want to bring about change.”

Pereira still has his whole life ahead of him and is eager to achieve anything and everything. When asked if there was anything he wanted to add, he looked to the ceiling and thought for a brief second.

“If I had to say anything, I would take the chance to thank everyone that has believed in me and my family,” said Pereira carefully. “We were hopeless at a certain point, and [everyone] brought us hope… I wish that one day I can give back to the community and give them just as much as they gave me.”