Christian Armstrong isn’t your stereotypical high school student. To summarize him by title would almost be going against the grain of who he strives to be.
“I’d like to be compassionate,” Armstrong said. “I try to be understanding. I’m liberal, extremely liberal.”
He also has his own definition of the word ‘liberal.’
“To be compassionate and to be understanding,” he said of how he views the word. “To be liberal is to try and affect people’s lives that don’t have the means to live the life we all feel we’re deserving.”
At the age of 18, the Oakdale High School senior is well on his way to living an impressionable life honoring his views. Armstrong was recently the Regional Award Recipient of the “Every Student Succeeding” award given by the Association of California School Administrators. The honor includes a $500 scholarship thanks in part to the nomination of OHS Counselor Nancy Morales.
The student’s nomination letter outlines the kind of adversity he has overcome during his tenure at OHS. None of which were within his control, but all of which he was able to overcome while others might have quit.
Among the things listed was homelessness. A term not completely comfortable to the student, who shared much of the past two years he had lived without a true sense of ‘home.’ He now lives with a friend and her family.
“I was never physically on the streets,” he said, acknowledging that to many the instability may be defined as ‘homelessness,’ but he chooses not to see it that way. “It was more the what will the next day hold,” he continued. “I didn’t always know where we would be next.
“Insecurity is what paralyzed me my sophomore year,” he noted of his home life. “Junior year, I learned that it’s what fuels me.”
The award recipient also shared school and education did more than fuel him, it offered him the structure that his home life lacked.
“I like to learn,” he said. “I would sort of use my school work as a way out. Having the routine was secure. I felt secure because of the routine.”
Secure in an environment that isn’t always welcoming to students with struggles.
“It feels like a fish out of water sometimes,” Armstrong said of the mainstream high school life, where he may not typically fit. “I think I’ve surrounded myself with empathetic people. People who shame because of dress or appearance, I feel bad for them. There is an illusion of grace.”
Demonstrating a maturity well beyond his 18 years, the high school senior noted that his life circumstance may give others an impression of cynicism, but to the contrary, he sees himself as more of a pessimist.
His love of learning, however, is now proving to be positive for the next big step for the OHS senior. Armstrong has been accepted to the University of Virginia and is waiting on word from Georgetown University and University of California Berkeley. He plans to major in Political Science and pursue a career in law.
“If I had to see myself in 10 years I would be in Washington DC in the justice department, either as an intern or working,” he said of his life goals.
“What drives me is my family,” Armstrong added of his commitment to education and a better life. “Some people try to honor their family. My goal has always been to better my family.
“I see myself more as a supporter than a role model,” he continued. “That (role model) seems kind of iconic. I don’t want to be iconic.”