October 20, 2011 § 7 Comments
“Naci un campesino, y morire un campesino”. It roughly translates to “I was born a farmer and I will die a farmer”. I don’t know who wrote it but it’s something I identify with and my life experiences only strengthen it.
I share this with you because my family is of humble beginnings, but of entrepreneurial spirit. Hard work was and it’s still the norm and it was engrained in my brain at an early age. My parents emigrated to the US in the early 80’s and my siblings and I followed in 1985. Upon my arrival, I entered the seventh grade and six years later I graduated high school. Although my mother only finished 3rd grade and my father 8th grade, they value education and always encouraged me to go to college. I was fortunate that they offered encouragement and financial support, but not much in the way of guidance as they were unfamiliar with the US higher education system. I had to find my way through the college and financial aid application process. Having no form of mentoring or guidance, I decided to attend one of the local colleges.
Although at first I struggled, I quickly found my place and began to explore. It’s no coincidence that it took me six years to graduate, not because I was not a good student but because I began on a learning quest that extended by college career. I began to take courses like Photography, Poetry, Jewelry Making, American Literature and many others that were not part of my field of study. Today, I do something totally unrelated to what I studied, but I could not do what I do had I not gone through my college experience. One of the most important things college taught me was to “learn to learn”. That’s something that is invaluable and that’s why I always say that my college experience was and still is life changing.
I understand and appreciate the fact that I’m one of the lucky few. The Latino community in the US is now 50 million strong , but reality is that higher education is still an unattainable goal for the majority of Latinos. That’s why I’m encouraged and delighted to learned about initiatives such as the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and that of private corporations such as Univision’s Edúcate! Es El Momento and Scholarship Program. We need more programs like this to mentor Latino youth and give them a fair opportunity at attending college.
As for my parents, my mother learned to read and write well in Spanish in night school. Here in the US she went to school and speaks English well. Although, she is sometimes shy to speak it. My father finished his high school and went on to college. Although he is currently not taking classes, he hasn’t given up on finishing his degree. They are both business owners.
As for myself, I’m a software developer with a passion for the use technology in education. I encourage you to give back and mentor even just one kid and give our Latino youth a fair chance at attending college and getting ahead.
Now, I’m inclined to change my favorite quote to “ Naci un campesino, y morire un campesino educado”.