Why did I dedicate my studies to bilingual education? I was not a part of a bilingual program. I do not come from a long line of teachers. I honestly had never considered becoming an educator. Nor did I know what it would take to become one.
Upon entering a University straight out of high school, I believed I had to climb a social ladder to make money. I believed that business would be my way to that goal, which would lead to a good life. Once I was taking my economics classes I felt like I didn’t fit in. One professor would make jokes about the people who mowed his lawn which I found very offensive. At the time, my family was in the business of mowing lawns and I didn’t appreciate his racist jokes. One day I looked around my classroom and woke up. All I saw were white males. What was I doing in this horrible economics course?
At the time I was working at a tutoring center and I was a volunteer soccer coach at the local YMCA. I was the youngest coach, and yet parents would request my coaching season after season. My soccer teams did not win many games but they did learn to work together as a team. I was slowly developing a passion for teaching children. I spoke to a good friend who was studying education and she told me it would not be easy. I love a good challenge, Education sounded perfect. My friend also suggested that I enter Bilingual Education because it would increase my marketability. I myself was never in Bilingual Education but, I thought it would be worth a shot.
Coaching and volunteering helped me realize Economics was not making me happy. These experiences with children made me think about my own childhood. I began to remember that I was not supposed to be in college. I was the daughter of an immigrant, a single father, raised by abuela, on beans and rice and second hand clothing. How did I get so lucky to get into a University?
I was lucky to have a brave abuela, hard working abuelo and risk-taking father. My grandmother single handedly raised her 11 kids. My grandfather was a Bracero working in the deserts of Arizona picking fruits and vegetables for pennies a day. My father sold everything from coffee to Tupperware with his mother. They did this to make it out of Mexico and to the USA.
My dad was a dreamer. He had not completed high school in Mexico. He came to the USA at the age of 18 and made good money in a steel factory in Connecticut. Pero, that was not enough for him. His English was limited to “Okay”, “Hello” and “Thank you”. His lack of education and English did not stop him from enrolling in community college. It took my dad years to accomplish his goal. He learned English from a volunteer at a public library that would have him point to things and enunciate after her. He became a single father. He lost hope many times, but never gave up. In 1997 I watched my dad receive his bachelor’s degree. He is now a business owner and I could not be more proud. He even received his Masters of Business Administration. My dad works with his family, my abuelos are our neighbors, we went from living in a one bedroom apartment with 8 people to living comfortable in homes and it is all because my dad believed that education would get us here someday.
I owe my life to education. I owe it to tell children that there is a chance. We can defy odds. I‘ve seen it. I’ve done it. Education is the way to your dreams. That is why I choose this path as a career. I want to share my story and reach all those who feel alone. Education is not only for the chosen few.