Graduation and a Week from Italy!

I AM DONE! (For now anyway) 

Today I graduated from UCLA, it has been such a crazy ride, it is incredible! I never thought I would be at UCLA, let alone a UCLA graduate.  

When I was a junior in high school I decided I was going to college, so I went to the counselor’s office and talked to a lady, she asked me normal things like, “what do you want to study”, “where do you want to go”, normal questions.  My main concern, like all my friends, was the finances so I asked her what could I do? Understandably she mentioned federal school loans, FAFSA and all that good stuff, so for the first time I had to confess to someone outside my family members that I was undocumented and I had no idea how to pay for university.  

She looked at me and she told me I couldn’t go to school, she said “too bad” she suggested I should go back to my country or just work because I couldn’t go to college.  It broke my heart. I decided that school was not worth it, why should I continue high school if I couldn’t go to university? What was the point of everything? What was it for? Why was I even there? So I ditched school everyday after fourth period, which caused me to get a truancy ticket and a Saturday school, then I drank alcohol inside my high school and I got sent home and suspended for 3 days.  I didn’t care. I was angry and sad and depressed.  

But thank God I didn’t let it consume me, one day (it sounds so cliche) but one one day I realized out of a sudden like a bulldoze of an epiphany, that I was going to show her, I was going to make her see that I had in me all this potential, I can do anything and everything I want, I swore that I will do something, anything, for me and my family.  

So I researched, and I found out about AB540, the immigration movement…so I went to community college, and I got involved as an activist, I got educated and I worked so hard to pay everything out of pocket.  Then I transferred to UCLA and it was the happiest moment of my life, I never in my wildest dreams thought I will be here today, my parents sacrificed so much for me and my brother, their happiness, their family, their home and comfort to give us a better future.  I am so happy and so grateful to my mom and dad, and God, that I cannot express the love and gratitude.  

I am truly blessed, when I say blessed I don’t only count the good things in life, but also the bad, sad, hard, and painful events in my life, because those experiences are the most important.  Hardships feel like you are dying, but if you have faith in yourself, your family, and in God (well you don’t have to believe in a deity), everything is possible.  Life may not go your way, you might not do the things you planned or you go to another direction, but you tried, and you did it, you went and took a chance, if that is not winnning, I don’t know what is.

Then I am going to Italy in a few days, on June 23rd and this is surreal.  First graduation and now Italy, hopefully my luck doesn’t run out.  Therefore I need to thank all of you who helped me, you know who you are, but I’ll mention you anyway:

  • Emily Moon for writing the letter
  • Celia and David for sponsoring me
  • George Merlos for being an amazing friend and for showing me that God is wonderful
  • Chino High School counselor, for shattering my dreams but making me fight harder in life
  • Mt. SAC IDEAS for being my first support group for undocumented students
  • Amairany Garcia for introducing them to me
  • Lucas for sponsoring me
  • and last but the most important people in my life, the ones who deserve praise and admiration, to the people that I owe my life and every single thing I have, my mom and dad.  Only God knows how much I love you, how much I wish I can be someone that is good and that I wish more than anything to take care of you and bring you joy and pay you back everything you sacrificed for me and my brother.  I love you with all my heart and soul mommy and daddy, thank you.
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