This article is part of our ongoing Latino Giant series that focuses on highlighting stories of our community throughout the country.
If when I was a sophomore in high school, someone would have told me that by the age of 22, I was going to travel to different colleges across the country, go to Brazil, start my own nonprofit club, graduate from high school, move away from home to Tulsa, Oklahoma, then move to Washington, DC, graduate from The George Washington University (GW) with a degree in Political Science, and end up living in Maryland, I would have thought they were crazy.
Sometimes when I walk around D.C., I stop to really look at where I am and say to myself, “I got myself here,” and I feel a sense of pride over the fact that I took charge of my life when I did. See, when I was in high school, I wasn’t always making the best choices. It was too easy to get caught up in the “way of life” we learned to follow. At school, you learned that you never let anyone “talk” about you; you defend yourself if anyone tries to instigate a fight and you never back down. There was talk about loyalty to your friends, earning respect, and speaking your mind whether people liked it or not. This was just the way people interacted with one another.
I became more worried about the day to day rather than the future. Before I graduated from high school, I had seen some of my good friends in jail, others dropped out, some of my friends were dealing drugs at school, and I had teachers bluntly tell me that I was not going to make it to college. As I mentioned, I also wasn’t making the best choices so I probably reinforced their judgments but I was fortunate enough to have people that believed in me because at one point, not even I believed that I could do it.
I haven’t always known the right path to follow to achieve my goals but I have always seen the bigger picture. I have learned that as long as you have the passion, drive, and motivation, you will find a way to get what you want. I have learned many things from my father but the two things that have helped me the most have been to always speak up to show confidence and to never be afraid to ask questions—regardless of what people think. It is okay to take chances and create change in your life. When I transferred to GW, I literally picked up my bags, got on a plane, and found my way to campus. I had never visited, I did not know anyone, and had no idea if I was even going to like living in DC but I did know that I did not want to wonder the famous “what if.” It’s important to learn to recognize chances for opportunity and to always pray. There are times I feel as though God has lined things up perfectly for me, testing my ability to take the risks for what he has laid out.
At the age of 22, graduating from The George Washington University was by far my biggest challenge but also my biggest success. As a first-generation Mexican college student, not only did I carry my hopes and dreams across that stage, but I also carried my parents’ hard work, sacrifices, and the trying times that came with living in a completely different country for the betterment of their children’s lives. I do wish I would have recognized that sooner than later but I love the person I have become and I am glad that my parents have been a prime example of honesty and humility in my life.
Elizabeth Escovar was born in Waukegan, IL. She is the oldest of four girls and comes from a Mexican family. She has graduated from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and currently works with Nueva Vida, Inc. as a Program Coordinator and Patient Navigator assisting Latina women in the metropolitan area to navigate the health care system focusing on cancer awareness.