Latino Giant of The Week: Giovanna Hurtado

My name is Giovanna Karina Hurtado-Vargas. I am originally from Acayucan, Veracruz Mexico. I arrived at Elkin, NC at the age of 6. Elkin is a small town. I was one of four Latino students all throughout school

Growing up in my small suburban neighborhood was happy and, peaceful. Where the neighbors knew my family and we knew them. I guess you could say I have grown up with a “southern” state of mind.

I say “Ma’am” and “Sir”, I walk around telling people “Hi”, and I wave at strangers driving by. I know everyone, and even if I don’t, I’m still polite. I tend to elongate my I’s. Getting a higher education was a
given, almost like breathing.

When I was about 13 we moved just outside the city limits. I was assigned a new school to attend
but my mother, being relentless, wouldn’t send me to another school. She knew the education and
atmosphere Elkin High school could provide for college was unique. Being a single mother with no
support, she worked harder and longer hours to be able to afford the annual fee it would cost to send
me to Elkin High.

I embarked on my high school journey in 2004, THRILLED. I choose the 4 year college path way of
course and enrolled in Honor courses. I joined the track team, I became a cheerleader, and I joined
the women’s soccer team along with HOSA (Health Occupations Student Association) and the Spanish
Club. Everything looked pretty much picture perfect until 2008, the year I was to graduate. My world
crumbled around me, everything that I had worked for would be for nothing. I wouldn’t be able to
attend college to become the orthopedic surgeon that I pictured myself being in the future.

As everyone threw up their caps; I held on to mine. It was the last piece of my present that I could hold
on too, because my future was uncertain.

After graduation I held odd in jobs never satisfied, simply existing and not living.

Finally in 2009, I met the love of my life and I felt alive again. Things were turning up. We married
in August of 2010 and shortly afterwards I landed a Job with an attorney as his legal assistant. I
thought ,“Wow my life has really taken a 360° turn.”

Until the other side of the man I married made its first appearance in early November 2011, starting
with a body slam into the floor knocking me unconscious. It went from there, escalating from bad to
worse. Finally in 2011 by some miracle El Cambio (the organization I am a part off) came into my life and
I learned that being undocumented didn’t make me inferior to my husband who was an ally.

I left him and I was granted a Protection Order.

It’s now 2012 and I have come out publically to Janet Napolitano, the first dreamer to do so. I have done
a hunger strike to pressure the community into action for the release of one of my dear friends from
detention. I have been in an art exposition twice for Todd Drake. I have had the wonderful opportunity
to speak at different colleges around the state and I have had the pleasure of finding out I motivate
other undocumented immigrants to stand strong with their heads held high and push past the system.

After all No Human if illegal and they can only judge us by our character, our love and our actions.

Giovanna Karina Hurtado-Vargas is originally from Acayucan, Veracruz MX. Hurtado is a Dreamer in
every sense of the word. A Chicana Feminist, who in the words of Gloria Anzaldua “has the ability to hold multiple
social perspectives while simultaneously maintaining a center that revolves around fighting against
concrete material forms of oppression.” . Hurtado is currently enrolled in Forsyth Techinical
Community College pursuing a Paralegal degree. In the near future, she hopes to transfer to a Four year university to major in Womyn Gender Studies and Minor in History, that will lead to Central Durham for a Law Degree.

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