Luis Pimentel Zavala sits stoically as he describes his parents’ journey to Jasper County. In early 2000, they started a family and began viewing their surroundings through a different lens. When they looked around, his mother and father did not see the environment they’d envisioned for their children. They wanted what all parents long for, the ability to provide a rich and fulfilling life for their children.
Instead of settling, they made a series of brave and life-changing decisions, emigrating from Mexico to The United States, and more specifically, immigrating to rural Jasper County, Illinois. While some might see Jasper County as the home they’ve known for generations, Luis’ parents saw it as a fresh start filled with opportunity. And because of this view, they made it their home. With four children, Luis’ parents have worked hard to ensure their children all had a solid education and ample opportunity.
They just wanted a better life for us,” said Luis. "A better life is what Jasper County offers.
“Basically, they just wanted their children to have a better life than they had. Mexico wasn’t a good country to be in at that time. They just wanted a better life for us,” said Luis. A better life is what Jasper County offers.
Fast forward two decades and Luis is a senior at Newton Community High School. He has three sisters - one in college, one in eighth grade and one in kindergarten. His oldest sister, also an Eagle alumna, is attending Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. At SIU she’s chasing passion and practicality by studying art and business. Luis also wants to go to college and anticipates studying engineering, though he is, as of yet, undecided on a particular discipline.
He considers his teachers, coaches, and friends all as inspirations. He also draws from the lessons of his parents’ journey. At times, my childhood was rough. I fight through it. It’s okay. I know I can get through it and I feel like I can complete anything. That’s what my parents had to do in their past.”
Luis considers math to be one of his strengths. He is currently learning calculus and completed trigonometry as a Junior. Some of his best memories are of being part of a team. He runs on the cross-country team and is a middle-distance runner in track. He considered engineering the intersection of his interests. Something he views very pragmatically.
“Playing Minecraft as a kid, I loved building things. I loved math, too. I just decided that I wanted to be an engineer,” said Luis.
For Luis, Jasper County is all he’s ever known. Since preschool, he and his siblings have relied on the opportunities provided by the Jasper County school system. Luis considers his county’s greatest strength to be its residents. He recognizes that his story is unique for the area but has always felt welcome.
When discussing what separates Jasper County from others, he says, “It's bonding with other people. It’s easy for me to make friends here. It’s actually a cool place to be because of all the memories I’m making and how much fun I’m having. It’s a good place to be," he adds.
Well said, Luis, we couldn’t have said it better.