Dad quits job to help son graduate

Chase Cubelos was at zero percent.

“Chase was living with his mother for a few years and not doing well. Depression, he was by himself, bad environment,” said his father, Juan Cubelos. “… Then in November … I get a call and Chase wanted to move in with me. So of course I told him, I’ll drive home tomorrow and pick you up. Right away we started talking and I was happy to have the kid with me … I started asking about his school.”

It turned out Chase had been working full time and not completing classes for his online high school course with Utah Connections Academy.

“He was at zero percent. There was nothing there. He told me himself, I’m not doing it,” said Juan.

Juan told Chase he needed to quit his job.

“I told him, ‘we’re going to set up priorities’.” School is number one and driver’s license [is number two],” said Juan. “I was not asking.”

Chase had around 23 classes that he needed to complete in one year. Juan did the numbers and realized it was possible. Juan worked with school counselors and teachers to make it happen.

“We pushed and we pushed and we made him cry a couple times but he never backed off. He could have just gotten his bag and gone back with his mother but he never did. He stuck to his guns and boom, it was done.”

To help Chase, Juan stopped looking for work. Juan owns a drill rig and said that finding work was not a problem.

“I did have work offers and I lied to people and I told them I was busy, that I was doing something else. And I chose to dedicate myself to Chase because he’s my only son and I don’t have another one. There’s only one shot to it,” said Juan. “ … How can you look the other way when you see your kid failing?”

Chase agreed that his father did what needed to be done.

“He always got me out of bed in time, kept me on a schedule for school, seven days a week. He always was on top of my grades too … He knew it needed to happen,” said Chase. “… and I graduated … I feel like it helped me graduate. I probably would have had to take an extra year if I hadn’t done that.”

To graduate, Chase had to work every day, without weekends or holidays.

Kathy Schroeder, family community coordinator for Utah Connections Academy, called it “a miracle.”

“Over a span of three or four months … all of a sudden Chase is working and his grades are going up and I called his dad and I said, wow, things are getting better. What’s going on? And he [says], ‘we do what we got to do.’ When he came to the United States and got his citizenship, he had to work really hard and he didn’t want Chase to have to work as hard as he did. Chase is really super smart. He has the ability, he just didn’t have the foresight to realize how important getting his diploma was,” said Schroeder. “They just hunkered down and they got it done … when Chase walked across that stage … it was miraculous. That he has the support of his dad and the stick-with-it-ness just to pull through … it was a team effort. Chase couldn’t have done it by himself. His dad couldn’t have done it by himself. But together they did it and what a strong relationship they have now.”

Schroeder said that she was worried about Chase before his dad stepped in.

“When you look at kids who don’t succeed and the situations that they’re put in, that was this kid. You kind of have a feeling about certain kiddos. But this was the exception. This dad changed this kid’s life. He invested everything he had to make this kid pass … So now [Chase] is 18, he can do whatever he wants and he’s able to be an adult and choose the life that he leads, not the life that’s chosen for him.”

Chase graduated from Utah Connections Academy on May 31.

“At the end, you had to see his smile. He went from not caring … he was so proud … he accomplished something. He needed that,” said Juan.

Chase plans to get a summer job while he considers his next step.

For Juan, not working meant money was tight but he said it was all worth it.

“I’m going to keep pushing him to go and do something but at least he’s got the base … I did stretch dollars, that’s for sure. But they make dollars every day. They don’t make kids every day,” said Juan.

ByBy Rose Egelhoff

The Times-Independent