Every college application season, I read a good number of personal statements written by Seniors. The general prompt given for most was to describe a part of your world – school, home, or community – that shaped the dreams and aspirations they have.
Aside from a grabbing introduction, this essay in specific left me with the notion that immigrants to this country – but arguably illegal immigrants in specific – carry with them the purest idea of what this United States of America is. This idea – this pure notion of America – makes people willingly leave their homes and cast themselves into the vast unknown for the sake and survival of Self, Future, and Family.
Often, it might not be the immigrants themselves who reap the full benefits of this America but rather their children. That’s this student. That’s many of my students.
I asked my student if I could post her essay anonymously and she agreed.
My mother’s heart is beating as fast as a hunted dear. After four failed attempts to cross the U.S.-Mexican border on that cold night of 1995, it seemed as though her chances to reach the “American Dream” were vanishing by the minute. Petrified with fear, she stands frozen as she realizes that she is running out of time and she must carefully think what her next move will be. She must act now.
In disbelief as she tells me her story, I sit and reminisce alongside her, the events that took her to where she is now, to where I am now. I realize that making it through that night to “El Norte” wouldn’t only determine her future but my siblings and mine as well.
My parents have stood as the tower of strength in my life through their constant sacrifices, which inevitably have shaped and influenced the person I am today. Ever since my parents came to the “Land of Opportunity”, my father has worked nonstop to provide my family and I a decent life. Although, my life doesn’t consist of riches and wealth as many coming to this country wishfully believe, this has never been a barrier that impedes me from obtaining my personal aspirations. As a child, I wasn’t asked for anything other than to go to school and do well for my own sake, for my future’s sake. I’ve done this to the best of my abilities and, as a result, I have been able to thrive in my academic life. My education has been a priority since a very young age. Even though my parents didn’t have the opportunity to get a higher education, and all they accomplished was grade school in their homeland, they have embedded in me the notion that education is the key to obtaining a better life.
Learning about and witnessing my parents’ sacrifices to come to this country made me realize and acknowledge all their hard work. Watching my mother in tears as she recalled the events that brought her to this day, made me decide that I needed to repay my parents for the opportunity they had given me. I became the guide and support of my younger siblings in whatever they needed, especially in their education. My parents work so hard and long they don’t have the time nor education to help my siblings with their school work. My parents are the greatest inspiration in my life, and I want to be as such to my siblings. I’d like to instill in them the reality that no matter how dark the present day may seem, you can still overcome any obstacle that comes your way. “With a new day, come new strengths, and new thoughts”, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said.
The hardships my parents have endured made me realize the difficulties many immigrants live by on a daily basis. Moreover, being part of an immigrant family has made me value and take advantage of what this country has to offer, as well as appreciate all the opportunities that come my way. My parents have taught me not to grieve in the adversity that one may face when struggling through problems but rather turn that into strength and ambition to want to achieve triumph in whatever I set my mind to do. This ideology has molded the responsible, determined young woman I am today. With that said, I want to inspire others to break past the stereotypes of immigrant families and reach for higher education, a better life, and a successful future.
With tears, my student told me that her mother, with tears of her own, almost begged her not to submit this essay to the colleges. Her mother’s fear was that Immigration would come knocking on their door.