In a world full of violence and hate, it’s nice to know that there is still hope for the future.
At 24 years old, John Tony seems like an ordinary college student but once a simple conversation is had, one can begin to see there is much more to this student than meets the eye.

Tony started public school in Sulphur, La. like any regular kid would. But at the time, the Sulphur School District offered a program that many schools didn’t, ‘Spanish Immersion.’

Students in the program began in their kindergarten year and every subject taught was done so in Spanish, thus allowing a complete immersion in the Spanish language.

“[I’m more grateful now] than before that my grandparents made me do it. As I got older, [speaking Spanish] became second nature,” Tony said. “I’ve actually been told I don’t have an accent.”

Tony was in the program until his eighth grade year, when he moved to Vinton to live with his dad.

“It was difficult [switching back to regular public school],” he said. “It wasn’t hard, it was just different.”

He was able to test out of Spanish 1 and 2 in high school because he was more advanced in the language than what the school offered.

At the age of 15, he started working at Casa Ole. He quickly became General manager at 18 and moved up to assistant supervisor in just a few months Being able to speak Spanish with co-workers and customers helped Tony stay fluent and helped him move up in the business world.

By the age of 18, he co-owned Rafael’s Mexican Restaurant in Lumberton and Orange and at 21 he sold his share of the business to go back to school. A friend was dining in Rafael’s and talked to him about going back to school and to pursue a dream.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field,” Tony said.

He is currently enrolled in the RN program at Lamar State College-Orange and plans on pursuing a degree to become a nursing anethetist. This would allow him to specialize in the administration of anesthesia.

Since putting one’s self through college can be quite pricey, he currently works as a bartender at Chili’s to help off set the cost.

Through his ability to speak fluent Spanish, he found that he could help people in numerous ways. In his search to help those in the community, he began working with Blaine Goins, a friend and local attorney, by interpreting for a few a his clients. Soon Goins had the idea to use Tony in a court case.

“He had this case where both parties and the judge trying the case agreed to let me [interpret],” Tony said.

Since He is not certified to be an interpreter, all parties had to agree. Tony is currently working towards becoming certified.

“At first, I was nervous,” he said. “Then it was really easy, like I was having a conversation with [the client]. The judge would speak to [the client] and I would translate.”

While Tony plans on continuing working as a court interpreter, he has his eyes still set on a job in the medical field.

“I love helping people,” he said. “I really enjoyed helping people [during my clinicals for my CNA]. I enjoyed taking care of them. It feels good to help somebody. It’s embarrassing for them sometimes, but someone’s got to do it.”

While Tony can’t exactly put his finger on why he wants to go into the anesthesia field, he has found the speciality extremely interesting since high school.

His journey through life eventually brought him across the state border and he plans on staying at LSCO for as long as he’s able to.

“I’d rather go to [LSCO] for as long as I can before I get to the big university, he said. “Dr. [Jerry] Sanford and Mrs. [Robyn] Senter help me and push me to do better. I have a great support system and a lot of friends here in Orange. I’ve been at Chili’s forever and I enjoy working there. It gets me through school and it’s fun that I’ve found something that I do enjoy doing and that allows me to go to school for what I want to do.”

Tony has his entire life in front of him and has chosen to pursue his dream of working in the medical field before settling down with a family.

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers