The formula for success is a widely discussed and highly debatable topic, but for one L.A. mom, the answer is easy: it’s unconditional love for her son.

“Something that I always heard my mom say is that having an education gives people the opportunity to have a voice. To put it in simple terms, hav[ing] an education empowers people,” explained Javier, high school senior and member of United Way’s Young Civic Leaders Program.

Javier’s mom, Leticia, is a hard-working, Spanish-speaking woman who never received more than a grade school education. And her words seem to have had an impact on Javier because this Fall, he’s leaving for New York City to start his freshman year at Columbia University.

Leticia has always placed a priority on education with Javier and has been heavily involved in Javier’s school journey. According to Leticia, being involved and engaged with his schooling is the real key to success. For Leticia, it means “not just when the grades come in but be[ing] involved all year long… Tell[ing] him that with family love, he can achieve anything.”

This family story is further proof that a parent’s deep involvement in their child’s education can inspire students to take charge in the classroom and beyond. Javier credits his success to Leticia’s encouraging attitude and involvement and while that’s only one reason to celebrate her, it’s more than enough for us.