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From Cleaning Toilets to Cleaning Up the Community

Growing up in poverty is not the easiest lifestyle for a child, much less for a student. But within eight years, Dan Arriola started off cleaning houses and having three jobs at once to becoming a lawyer and the new deputy district attorney for the San Joaquin County.

“In order to get out [of poverty], you need an education,” Arriola said. He was actively involved in school in Drama, Leadership (Senior Class Vice President of ’07) and the AP Program. The long nights of working, studying and doing homework then waking up to repeat the cycle over and over again never slowed him down. By time of graduation all those nights paid off as Arriola graduated 10th in his class with a 4.4 GPA moving onto UCLA. “Your journey starts at college, not ending.” Arriola said how colleges provide more opportunities for a student to learn.

Arriola mostly enjoyed participating in Leadership as it opened opportunities for him. “Befriend the teachers you are the closest to.” The AP English department teachers were the go-to people for Arriola, and he kept contact with Ms. Duff, asking for advice on college assignments.

Passing the Bar Exam the first time signifies all that Arriola has been through and fought for. “The test was awful and terrifying; worst test [that] I have ever taken.” After 16 hours of test-taking with a low passing rate, passing the exam was essentially a combination of the last 10 years of Arriola’s life and a break in his family’s cycle of poverty. Long nights, applying for numerous scholarships and being a child of a low-income family shined with Arriola owning his own law firm.

From being one of the youngest attorneys who owns his own law firm to being appointed as deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County and being co-founder of STRIVE (a non-profit program to help students) allow Arriola to give back to the community. Arriola wants to contribute the most back to the community and provide a safe environment for students. Inspired by his own struggles related to college, he hopes to educate students on opportunities available and knowing where to go after high school. “If everyone else is doing it, why can’t you?”

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