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Ector’s Marco Salazar Finds the Recipe for His Future

September 27, 2022 | Jeffrey Good
Ector’s Marco Salazar Finds the Recipe for His Future Hero Image

Most high schoolers work low-wage jobs or none at all. They make plans for building careers after getting their diplomas, often with help from college, trade school or military training. When they describe their adult selves, it’s in the future tense.

Not Marco Salazar.

At 17, the Ector Acceleration Academies learner has joined his older brother Raul to build a gourmet catering business in West Texas. The enterprise, Ratengo, features their unique blend of Mexican, Asian and French cuisines —  and is so successful that they were recently featured on a CBS news program.

Marco couldn’t pursue his career and his dream without the flexible, personalized education offered at EAA.

“I just didn’t have time just to do full-time school and full-time work,” says Marco. “It made it a lot easier for me to actually do school and graduate instead of missing a bunch of days.”

Marco hasn’t lived a charmed life. Far from it: He and his brother grew up in a struggling family and community, and Marco saw many friends cycle in and out of jail. His brother urged him toward something better — starting with a high school diploma.

“He doesn’t want me to end up like how some of my friends are,” says Marco. “Graduating high school is a big thing for him.”

“Man, to work with my brother, who, when I say we come from humble beginnings, I mean we come from very humble beginnings … it’s an absolute blessing” Raul told CBS. Marco added, “Now I see a career path. I see goals in life. I see being successful in the future. I’m excited for that — that excites me,”

Earning his diploma wasn’t always a big thing for Marco. After their business took off earlier this year, he grappled with whether to continue his education at a school with a traditional schedule. “I already found what I loved. And I was like, I don’t want to do school any more. I was ready to just drop out — but then I found this program.”

EAA allows the young chef to organize his coursework around his other obligations. Sometimes he and his brother will serve a tuxedo dinner party late into the night, and then he’ll work on a math or English class in the wee hours. Other times, Marco will come to the academy site located on a high floor at the Prosperity Bank building and take advantage of the one-on one coaching provided by caring teachers, counselors and advocates.

“Everyone just kind of gives you that home feel; everyone’s here for you,” Marco says of EAA educators. “It’s not just like, oh, you’re just the student. They know you by name — They come with a real personal approach and it makes you more motivated to actually do your schoolwork and get graduated.”

Marco and his brother began their business by selling their original Mexican sushi and have seen it grow explosively in 2022. After earning his diploma, Marco plans to continue working with his brother, and to pursue the kind of post-secondary education that will support his dream of traveling internationally and blending native cuisines into an original, delicious fusion.

“If it weren’t for Acceleration Academies,” he says, “I probably would have dropped out.”