A Good Time for a Road Trip

Richard Paige — Teachers always say they’ll go to the ends of the earth for their students. Oscar Santos did just that for one of his.

Santos, a 10th-grade geometry teacher, volunteered to drive Jonathan Alcala the roughly 1,200 miles from Pharr, Texas, to the Wabash campus to make sure that Alcala could attend today’s Top 10 Visit Day.

Alcala wasn’t sure he’d be able to make the trip due to some issues with his visa, but those cleared up Friday afternoon, a little too late to purchase a plane ticket, so Santos stepped up.

“It was kind of a last minute thing,” said Santos. “He found out Friday afternoon that he could make it, so he needed someone to drive him. I said ‘sure, I’ll do it.’ I knew it was important to him.”

Oscar Santos covered 1,200 miles in 22 hours to deliver a student to Top 10 Visit Day.

Santos, a first-year teacher and former social worker, is the coach of the math club of which Alcala is a member, and he freely admits that he didn’t know Alcala all that well. That changed dramatically over the previous 22 hours.

“I got to know him really well on this trip,” Santos laughed. “He’s a great kid.”

They pulled out of the Rio Grande Valley at 9:30 p.m. CST and arrived in Crawfordsville just after 8 p.m. Sunday. Aside from the two speeding tickets he received in Texas – “I was worried about getting him here on time,” he said – there were a number of stops including a few cat naps along the way.

It was the first trip to Indiana for both driver and passenger.

All in all, it’s been a memorable experience.  “I never imagined I’d have that kind of road trip where you do the whole trip in one day,” Santos explained. I didn’t think I could do it, but it was a good experience.”

Like any high school senior making his college choice, Alcala had his own share of questions and reservations during the trip north. Santos did his best to allay those fears.

“We live in a very small town in the Rio Grande Valley,” he explained. “It’s a different culture. I warned him about some of the things he might see and emphasized not to get frightened by the snow or the cultural differences.

“I don’t know quite how he feels about campus and things because I haven’t talked to him yet,” Santos said after the alumni panels, “but I loved the presentations this morning.”