"It kind of felt like I proved a lot of people wrong, and I showed up. I know I showed up," the 17-year-old graduating senior from Fresno said.
Aguilar, who once struggled in school, is now days away from graduating.
He credits his sister and mentors for his shift toward success, including Fresno Police Officer David Standley.
"I saw him once, and I saw him forever and never stopped seeing him. Every school I went to, he was there. He was a big part of why I graduated," Aguilar said.
Standley has served as a school resource officer for seven years and met Aguilar on campus six years ago.
The teen says he was known as a jokester and didn't take his classes seriously.
That changed as he formed a connection with the officer, which helped set him on the right track.
"Isaias has grown so much. I believe part of the process has been our interaction with his football coach on campus, getting encouragement there. Realizing if I do the work if I do things right, my teachers will respond in a positive way," said Officer Standley.
Aguilar decided to go to the Grizzly Youth Academy, a Charter School for at-risk youth in San Luis Obispo. Standley and his family took Aguilar for orientation and kept in touch.
The two have shared meals and special moments, recently getting the senior fitted for a tux for prom.
Aguilar says his life has changed and offers advice to others, who may fall between the cracks.
"You got to stop thinking about what others say about you for a good moment, and you will do right. You will do right if you stick with the right people," Aguilar said.
The resilient student is thankful for a bright future and for the unique friendships he's made along the way.
Isaias will graduate from Fresno Unified next Thursday. He plans to enlist in the Navy.