Kevin Zavala’s story is one of hard work and determination. He’s a true example of what perseverance looks like. Zavala grew up in Irving schools, starting at Thomas Haley Elementary School, Sam Houston Middle School and then MacArthur High School. Like many students across the country, the pandemic was hard on Zavala, and it showed in his grades as a student at MacArthur. Not only was he balancing school, he was also working full time at a local Taco Bell to help his family while taking care of his younger siblings.
“I wasn’t doing well in school,” said Zavala. “I felt like I wasn’t going to make it.”
Little did he know, his luck was about to change. Zavala received a call from his counselor who informed him about the Night OWL Academy. The academy provides students who are in danger of dropping out or who have dropped out the opportunity to earn their high school diploma in the evening. Removing barriers, the academy helps meet the needs of students who have work responsibilities and need a more flexible school-day schedule. Zavala jumped at the opportunity.
During the week, his day begins at 3:30 AM which is when he prepares for work and eats breakfast, if he can. As the manager, Zavala arrives at 5 AM to open the restaurant and prepare for the day ahead. At 7 AM, he heads back home to Grand Prairie to collect his younger brothers, drops them off at school and then returns to work. At 5 PM when his shift ends, he heads to night school, repeating this routine Monday through Friday.
“My parents work 12-hour shifts starting at midnight or around 1 AM, so I help them with my brothers in the morning,” says Zavala.
Despite having more responsibilities than the average 18-year-old, Zavala has remained dedicated to his education while maintaining a strong work ethic.
“Kevin is a great kid,” says Night OWL Academy principal Fabian Garcia. “He has had perfect attendance, he always participates in class, and he has a strong work ethic.”
Zavala says that the biggest lesson he’s learned through this journey is to keep trying and take advantage of any opportunity. He also credits the faculty and staff at the Night OWL Academy for helping him along the way.
“Everyone has been so nice and helpful,” he added. “They helped me get through it.”
On Friday, May 27, Zavala along with 23 of his peers walked the stage at the Night OWL Academy graduation ceremony, earning their high school diplomas.
He did it.
After earning his high school diploma, Zavala plans to attend North Lake College and study technology. We have no doubt that he’ll accomplish anything he sets his mind to.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more information about the Night OWL Academy, visit IrvingISD.net/NightOWLAcademy.