Whittier teen who cares for ailing mother graduates high school – NBC Los Angeles

California

A Whittier teenager who balanced his schoolwork along with being a caretaker for his ailing mother graduated from high school this weekend. He is now looking forward to pursuing a degree that will help people who are affected by the same illness as his mom.

Preston Guinto graduated magna cum laude from St. Francis High School in La Cañada and did so while caring for his mother, volunteering in his community and helping children with special needs.

“There are no amount of words that can describe how proud I am of him and all the hurdles he has jumped through this entire process,” the boy’s mother, Wendy Carrera, said.

Carrera said when her son was accepted to the college prep school, she and her husband initially had logistical concerns.

“Both my husband and I were like, ‘How are we going to do this? We live in Whittier and the school is in La Cañada,” she said.

With the support from other family members, they made it work and Guinto thrived.

“What I saw from Preston from the beginning was his earnestness,” said Dan Pelletier, a counselor at St. Francis.

Guinto, who said he immediately knew he belonged at the school, beamed as he spoke about his academic experience.

“What made St. Francis special is everything I’ve learned,” he said. “It’s helped build character and just become a better human.”

These skills served him well when his mother was diagnosed with stiff person syndrome, a rare neurological disease.

“I think for Preston, it was a little dose of the delicacy of life and not to take it for granted, it fueled his fire,” Carrera said. “He was like, ‘I’m going to give back.’”

With that, Guinto joined other high school students as part of a volunteer team that worked to build toy motorized vehicles for children born with mobility issues.

“It’s a good way for us to learn more about the mechanics of these cars, along with giving back,” the teen said.

This type of hands-on experience inspired him to select his degree in STEM.

“My mission in life is to work for a Formula 1 team,” Guinto said. “I’m a car guy and with that, comes a love for mechanical engineering, which is my major going into  (Loyola Marymount University) in the fall.”

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