Coming from a small town in Puerto Rico, all my gains and experiences are very significant for my family and me. I didn’t grow up with much, and I witnessed all the sacrifices and hard work my mother had to make in order to raise me. My grandmother always stood right beside her, helping her and always encouraged me to be optimistic and inquisitive about my dreams.
Most of all, I saw how both my mother and grandmother led by example by being strong and hardworking citizens. It couldn’t be helped that I would be influenced by their sense of pride in knowing that a lot of work and dedication is being devoted to one’s work. And it translated into my own work success when I moved to the United States.
I thought about my situation as a young Latino minority. I knew the road for success that was ahead of me was not going to be easy. So I came up with a game plan on how to accomplish my goals. First, and most importantly, I had to know of course, what my goals were and this took some time. I had to be specific and clear about my goals, so that I knew exactly what I was aiming for.
Second, I had to find mentors and people I could learn from. These are people who posses qualities you wish for yourself. For example in my case, I learned how to better express myself from one of my professors in college. My academic advisor showed me what it was like to be a professional. Still to this day in my current job I know who my mentors are and I make sure I learn all I can from them.
Next I knew I had to work hard. For hard work leads to experience, and experience will give a person the upper hand wherever they go. I was on a full time schedule in school and worked at the hospital as a medical interpreter, generally for more than thirty hours a week. Most of the time I worked third shifts, from midnight until eight in the morning, and had to do some coordinating between my academic and my work schedule. However, despite having to work many hours at the hospital I was able to graduate from my program being the first in my family to obtain a college diploma.
After graduation, I moved to Athens, Georgia, in the depths of the economic downturn, where I became the first Latino Resident Manager of the historic Taylor-Grady House. I then obtained a job at the local school district with the Federal Migrant Education Program. I was able to provide migrant families from all over the world with academic and social support, and share my story with so many talented and gifted students to help them excel in school. I later became the Executive Director of Casa de Amistad, a local non-profit organization that provides free services to Latino families in Northeast Georgia including ESL classes, computer literacy programs, emergency food assistance and much more.
One last piece of advice I had for myself was to not, under any circumstances, let anything thwart me away from my goals. There will be so many distractions ahead and there will be times when we will want to give up. There will also be people who will want to see you fail. Not allowing this to happen is critical. My goals became my daily mantra and my mentors and supporters were my encouragement. The knowledge and experience I gained from dedication and hard work are invaluable skills no one can take from me. The fruit of my commitment to myself is that today I have a job I love, I’ve traveled to many places around the world, and I’ve shared many unforgettable and happy experiences with the people I love.
Born in Puerto Rico, Alex Borges moved to Georgia in 2004 to obtain his Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology. Alex currently serves as a board member for the AT&T Graduation Project and the Athens-Clarke Literacy Council. Alex also is supports his Latino community in Georgia by providing free adult literacy and social services as the Executive Director of the non-profit organization Casa de Amistad. Alex thanks both of his parents Jaqueline Ortiz and Victor Borges for their endless support.