When Yossymar Rojas grew up, he didn't have a bedroom to call his own.
His five-member family shared one room in their Mission Viejo home. Rojas slept in the closet.
As a boy, Rojas spoke Spanish at home. That meant the first day of school at Del Obispo Elementary was a real culture shock. The Spanish-speaking boy didn't know the teacher was trying to call his name at role call, for instance, according to the Capistrano Dispatch.
Despite his life's disadvantages, Rojas recently graduated as a valedictorian from Dana Hills High with a string of accomplishments, from coaching youth soccer to leading the Keystone service club for the Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Valley.
More recently, Rojas was one of six national finalists for the club's Youth of the Year award.
Rojas recently spoke to the Aliso Viejo City Council to advocate for the Boys and Girls Club.
"All my life I'd wanted to play on a team, but the cost of playing was beyond my parents' abilities," he told the council.
The youth club provided a scholarship for him to play on a local soccer club. He recalled the first day with the soccer club and the feeling he had walking into the arena. It was like he had walked into a professional stadium, he said.
As he stepped into a leadership role with the club, his horizons continued to grow.
"A boy who once lived in a closet was now staying at luxurious hotels for national keystone conferences," he said.
And in less than 40 days, Rojas will join the other five national finalists to meet President Barack Obama at the White House.
Rojas plans to attend UC Irvine in the fall, where he intends to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering.