College: A Life Changing Experience

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”.  

§ 7 Responses to College: A Life Changing Experience

  • That’s a great story. You should feel proud of what you’ve accomplished.

    I always enjoy these stories because they serve as proof that with hard work, anything is possible. They serve as inspiration to others.

    BTW, I would consider the fact that you ventured into other topics beyond your primary area of study a huge positive. You understood the meaning of “university.” Way too many people go to university with the mindset of only getting work training. That’s not what university is about in my opinion.

    • salmendoza says:


      Thanks for your comments. I’m definitely proud of what I have accomplished.

      I agree with you 100%. That’s exactly why I wrote this blog post. I wanted it to serve as an example and inspire others. Learning is one of those things that you never stop doing in your life and serves you well to learn to learn. I think it’s something we need to pass on to our kids.

  • claudiadelcid says:

    Excelente Sal! Y qué orgullo saber de personas como uds que a pesar de muchos obstáculos salieron adelante y tuvieron exito! Y sí, tienes razón con las enseñanzas que deja la Universodad. En mi caso, aprendí a ser más responsable, a admirar a mis profesores y a todos aquellos que trabajan con pasión para “enseñar”, a ser puntual y muchas cosas más!

    • salmendoza says:

      Gracias Claudia,

      Mi gustaria que muchos mas muchachos tengan la opportunidad de pasar por la experiencia universitaria, igual que tu y yo. Es el camino a la superacion y exito y en los EEUU estamos en desventaja cuando se refiere a Latinos y la educacion. Creo que hasta cierto punto es igual en los paises Latinoamericanos.

  • Tracy López says:

    Sal, i can’t tell you how much this post touched my heart. I never did go to college, but I always imagined that if I did, I’d be a bit like you, taking classes that wouldn’t necessarily take me towards a specific degree – learning just for the sake of learning… That’s what I do in life. If something strikes my curiosity, I check it out, learn as much as I can, and then usually move onto something else. I love it.

    The end of this blog post was a surprise to me. Your parents are such an inspiration. I teared up reading all that they’ve accomplished so I can only imagine how proud you are of them, (and how proud they are of you!)

    I absolutely love your small change to the quote more than I can say. Felicidades on this great post and all you’ve accomplished in life. Wishing you continued success, hermano.

    • salmendoza says:


      Thank so much for your kinds words. It means a lot to me that what I wrote resonated with you. I wrote this blog post to be an example and inspire others. I know that you have your hands full with your two little ones but it’s never too late. There will come a time when the opportunity will present itself. You just have to go for it. I am very proud of what they have accomplished and serves me as inspiration. Seeing what they have done and how they have done it gives me a different perspective on life.

  • My story is just like yours, slightly diff but I too… “Naci Campecina y Morire Campecina educada” :0) If I have learned one thing from my mother Is to always remember where we came from. We were lucky to have parents who came to this country to give us a better future. To give us, what they didn’t have, an education. I am working everyday to accomplish my goals so that I can set new goals when I achieve those. It took me 6 yrs to graduate too 🙂 Even if it takes 10 yrs to graduate, it doesnt matter! It’s 10 years towards a goal and 10 years not wasted. Just so you know – I am proud of you Cousin.

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