In July, recent high school grad Guillermo Pomarillo posted an open letter to his dentist on Facebook after they had an interesting interaction. He wrote, "I told you that I tried a year ago to get braces through a government program but was denied help." When the dentist asked if he wanted to try getting help again, Pomarillo said it wouldn't matter now because "I was going away for college and...I wouldn't be able to make monthly appointments for my braces." This is when Pomarillo mentioned he was going to Stanford.
Pomarillo continued, "Your initial reaction was surprised. But, were you surprised because you had a Stanford student on your chair or because you had a minority, low-income student, that needed government help to get braces, and would be attending Stanford on your chair? I believe it was the latter."
The dentist then asked Pomarillo for his ACT score. According to Pomarillo, after revealing his score, the dentist responded with, "Well my daughter got a 35 and she didn't get into Stanford.'" The dentist added, "When you have kids from neighborhoods like THESE...It's easy for them to get into Harvard or Stanford" with scores like Pomarillo's. In other words, the dentist thought Pomarillo got into Stanford but didn't earn it, even though he was also accepted to several other top colleges.
The dentist continued, saying, "Consider yourself very lucky. Getting into Stanford is like competing on The Voice, you know, when you get the buzzer." Pomarillo couldn't believe this dentist compared getting accepted to Stanford to winning a TV show. "You're telling me that pure luck got me admitted into not only Stanford, but schools like Princeton, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and WASHU, and waitlisted at Tufts, Penn, and Columbia?"
Pomarillo continued, "My parents, two undocumented immigrants that only obtained a grammar school education, couldn't afford to send me to private schools. Yes, I may have grown up in a neighborhood that doesn't have many young kids going to schools like Stanford. But it doesn't mean that people where I come from don't have the potential to succeed at Stanford."
Pomarillo pointed out that his parents only spoke Spanish, so he had to learn English on his own. He also mentioned that many times his family couldn't afford food or rent. He said that getting accepted to Stanford "doesn't mean that I'm better than your daughter. It means that I have the strength, the determination, the perseverance to succeed in a place like Stanford."
After the post went viral, Pomarillo was interviewed by USA Today. He said his parents were an inspiration to him. "My parents are living the American Dream through me," he said. "They have minimum-wage jobs, sacrificed a lot for me, and work really hard." He added, "My only way out of poverty and my bad neighborhood was to get an education. That kept me going."
After people became fascinated by Pomarillo's interaction with his dentist, he started the Facebook page Millennials of the World. He says the purpose of the page is to act as "an outlet for individuals to share their struggles in hope of inspiring, motivating, and encouraging others across the world."
Pomarillo also organized a college application workshop to help students get through the process. According to the event invitation, "While he may not have all the answers, this should be a good starting point for those who do not know where to begin."