One occasion, I overheard my classmates joke around saying, “You know Mexicans don’t go to college, they help their parents clean hotels and mow lawns.” I have to admit that this stigma got to me. I saw myself as someone insignificant. I enrolled into my local community college uninspired and did not bother exerting much effort in schoolwork.
Besides, I wasn’t sure what to anticipate after graduation. I was amongst thousands of students whose parents didn’t know how to enroll their child into college. Every time my teachers would ask me what college I was going to and I answered that I had not enrolled; they would shake their heads. Not in disbelief, but in disappointment from potential being wasted.
In particular, I remember my father would tell me stories of how he traveled across the border as many as 12 times to finally settle down. These stories that my father tells me help me understand and value how strong he is as well as the sacrifices he went through while thinking long term. He knew that although he did not have a family yet that he would one day and began to provide from the very beginning.
One morning, my father began to get a high fever with swollen lymph nodes on the right side of his neck. As he was waking up to go to work when he told us he felt fatigued and had a temperature of 102°F. We took him to the emergency room where he was immediately sedated and put on a ventilator. We soon found out that he had two blood clots in the right side of his neck. His head swelled up twice its size. We were in disbelief, we didn’t want to believe it was a blood clot and we did not understand how he got it in the first place. My father at 64 years old became a victim of stroke. At first we weren’t sure how to react. My father was the man of the house who was strong enough to get through anything and everything; he wasn’t allowed to show weakness. The doctor told us that if the clot was not removed in time, a stroke could kill my father.
As a result, I considered dropping out of college since I wasn’t adjusting to it anyway. I supposed I could work and supply income for my parents as they did for me. This is when I recalled what my classmates had said. I wanted to prove them wrong. I was determined to prove that I could become more significant than they had expected. My mother waged an admonishing forefinger at me as she explained that I needed to get through college. She wasn’t sure how but I was on my own to find someone or something that would inspire me to endure. No parent would want leave his or her children; but every parent would sacrifice anything to see them succeed. I may not have my parent’s accents but I kept their values and those values are the drive that I have now to move forward and this is why I joined the DREAM Act movement.
Specifically, it’s little injustices that you see that open your eyes. Injustices that will indubitably get us all worked up into frenzy, particularly instances of separation of families, racism, and stereotypes.
On the other hand, when you remove yourself from day-to-day worries, a genuine appreciation of the things you have in life are much more important. In my case it was the joke from my classmates that I did not have the potential to obtain a college degree. This was what fueled me to become an activist for those who are told that they can’t when in reality they’re just misinformed.
Certainly, the stories from my undocumented friends are the catalysts to my goals. I am able to be a friend and an ally. Someone who can offer a helping hand to someone who will walk the hallways through school and know how far the have come by telling their story.
In short, there is a whole world to win with motivation that has deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing.
Tracey Medina is a junior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in public relations. After graduation, she plans to implement her skills in social media as well as in public relation to create positive publicity in order to transmit a universal message of social justice capable of closing the generational gaps that has previously been manipulated by poor media practices in our Latino community.