The American Dream

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After transitioning from LA to Noblesville, NHS senior Luis Sorto wants to help his country with international relations

If Luis Sorto’s family had not moved to Noblesville from South Central Los Angeles almost a decade ago, he’s not sure how his life would have turned out.

“Most kids don’t make it very far – either homeless, dead, join a gang or do drugs,” he said. “My parents did the leap of faith – they sold their business and moved to Noblesville for their children.”

Humble beginnings

When Sorto’s mother, Eva, was 12, she moved to live with her aunt and paid her own way to attend a better school in Honduras. Sorto’s father, Jose, was 15 he did the same in his country of El Salvador.

“She had a full ride to a university in El Salvador; however, this was when the civil war was happening,” he said. “At the time the border was open. It was their dream.”

Sorto’s parents passed on higher education to move to Los Angeles and meet by chance at an English class taught by a Korean man who spoke with a thick accent.

The Sorto family moved to Noblesville in 2005 after visiting their uncle living in Westfield in 2004.

“They loved it and started looking for a home. It was pretty bad at the (L.A.) schools with police and metal detectors,” Sorto said. “I thought my new house was a mansion.”

Sorto had an adjustment period since Spanish was his first language and he was not fluent in English.

“I had never seen a place where African Americans and Hispanics were the minority. I was one of two minorities in my whole fourth grade class,” he said. “I didn’t know I had an accent until eighth grade in French class. I heard my recorded voice and freaked out.”

Dedicated student

“I’m so big on my education because of my parents. My parents gave up their education for mine,” he said.

As a child, Sorto learned the importance of always doing his best in the classroom.

“I would go to school and come back and my dad would check my homework. If my handwriting wasn’t legible he would erase it all and make me do it over again. I was 9 or 10,” Sorto said. “Now, I really do appreciate it. I started getting a work ethic. All my hard work led to good grades.”

This year, Sorto was an intern in the City of Noblesville Economic Development Dept. as part of the high school’s Career Exploration Internship Program. He worked on projects ranging from Workforce Development research, Box City project, Cultural Arts Emergence in Downtown Noblesville and more.

“Luis learned how to analyze and update the Noblesville Factbook, a compilation of demographic and community information. He received informational interviews and tours of several city departments, and conducted administrative tasks,” Economic Development Director Judi Johnson said. “Luis is an important part of our team. It has been bittersweet in these last few days of his internship with us.”

Because he doesn’t have his own transportation, Sorto would take his parents to work at Inmar in Fishers at 5 a.m. so he could drive to his internship and pick them up afterwards. Sorto said it wasn’t a sacrifice but a way to take advantage of an educational opportunity.

“I never wanted to miss a day of the internship because it was a new experience,” he said. “It was probably one of the best experiences in my life. I owe so much to them – lessons on life, how to interact with people, what to expect in college.”

Future plans

In the fall, Sorto will attend Georgetown University where he is a direct admit to the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, a premier school of international affairs. He will major in international relations and foreign affairs.

“My goal is to be an ambassador for the United States,” said Sorto. “There is no better place to international relations than in the capital and where the state department is. I love the city, the culture. It gives me chills just thinking about it.”

Sorto plans to minor or double major in public relations. He wants to get a job in Foreign Service after earning a master’s degree. Sorto also plans on learning Arabic and Italian while at Georgetown.

“I want to do something international, not to see the sites but to see and meet the people,” he said. “We just know what we have here. We do not know what’s over there.”

What others are saying

“Luis embodies the spirit that we look for in all of our students at NHS. He has made it his mission to make NHS a better place. He does this by modeling the kind of servant leadership that garners respect from his peers and teachers. His friendliness and infectious smile will be missed in the halls of NHS. Luis is living the American Dream. He looks at everyday as an opportunity to better himself and those around him. I don’t know if Luis even understands the impact he has on the people who he comes in contact with daily. And that’s why Luis will continue to have a positive influence on the lives of others.”

Jeffrey Bryant, NHS principal

“Luis is an exceptional student, a dedicated leader and a phenomenal person. He is unparalleled in his ability to work with all groups of people. I have complete confidence in his abilities and I expect that we will continue to see great things out of him in the future. His interpersonal skills make others feel comfortable when speaking with him and his integrity shows and reflects his commitment towards what he says. Luis is a man of great strength and of great faith and I feel honored to have met him.”

Marc Slain, NHS teacher

“I have been at Noblesville for 12 years and every once and a while you have a class that comes through that you just know is going to make a huge difference in the world. The class of 2014 is one of those classes. What makes Luis truly extraordinary is he stands out in the senior class. He has this drive within him that is not selfish or greedy. He uses his drive for personal success, but he is sure to pull others along with him in the journey. He has been identified by this special group as their leader. That is the greatest seal of approval or litmus test anyone in this class could have.”

D. Brandon Swart, NHS Social Studies Dept. chairperson

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Meet Luis Sorto

Age: 17

Birthplace: Los Angeles

Residence: Noblesville

Family: Parents, Jose and Eva Sorto; sister, Karla; and brother, Julio.

Hobbies: Running, playing soccer, public speaking, watching documentaries on other country’s cultures and memorizing national flags.

Class Rank: 29 out of 626

What he will miss most about NHS: “Easily, just the students, teachers and people. The time walking through the hallways seeing everybody, whether you speak to them or not. This will be the last week you pass the same hallways and see the same people.”

What he is glad to done with: “Having math or science homework.”

Personal quote: “Todo es posible” (everything is possible). “That’s my life. I heard it a million times from my grandpa and father.”

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