For Juan David Campolargo, this moment has been a lifetime in the making. The 17-year-old, who’s currently a senior at Benet Academy, immigrated to the United States from Venezuela with his family three years ago.
They sought refuge after a tragic incident.
“It was a normal Saturday when a group of criminals tried to kidnap my dad and I. They started shooting all over the place, the car had bullets all over. And unfortunately a gunshot impacted him. People thought we both died but I was alive,” said Campolargo.
It left Campalargo devastated, but because he survived, he felt he had no choice but to be optimistic
And it has gotten him far. Campolargo didn’t speak any English when he moved to Naperville, but learned how in just six months.
“Instead of thinking, ‘English oh my god. English has more than 10,000 words! Like I’m not going to learn that.’ No, I just told myself ‘I’m going to learn subjects like I, he, we she, etc. And the verbs, which is the most important things in languages,’” said Campolargo.
Shortly after learning a second language, he started taking college courses in high school.
His impressive story doesn’t stop there, as Campalargo is a business owner, is on two Naperville advisory committee’s, and even manages to squeeze in some volunteering time at the public library.
His latest accolade is his book, “Generation Optimism”, which encourages young people to have a more optimistic outlook in life. This caught the eye of Arthur Zards, who runs TEDxNaperville.
“So here you have a 17-year-old kid saying ‘I want younger generations to think of optimism’ and that’s fascinating and I wanted to explore that with him,” said Zards.
On November 9, an audience can explore it as well, as Campalargo will be a keynote speaker at TEDxNaperville.
He hopes what he says that day can have a positive impact on the audience.
“If I can do anything to improve people’s lives I will totally do it,” said Campolargo. “I am more than willing to do that because that’s what brings me joy, happiness, and what drives me the most.”
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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