Coming to the US has opened my mind. Since arriving here four years ago, I've been able to tap into a community that has supported my growth as a young Latina. I want to be able to share this dynamic with my community after attending San Francisco State University.
I come from Mexico City, one of the ten largest cities on the world, but also what is known as a "third world" city. As I was growing up in my home country I could see how education was limited for the middle and lower classes. No matter what level of education, it always cost money. Fortunately, in my case, my parents, even though they didn't have much, always supported me. My mom, in particular, worked so hard to provide the best for me.
However, when I was a young girl, education wasn't a priority for me. I ended up pregnant at the age of 14 years, which was so unfair to my family who had put so much hope and work into my education. Life wasn't easy at all for us. None of us knew how to react to the situation, but my parents stayed supportive. My baby's father left me as soon as he knew that I was pregnant. I had no idea what the future would hold for me, but I never stopped going to school until I was about to give birth.
By the time I gave birth, school was almost over, but I still had to turn in some work in order to graduate. Unfortunately, my pregnancy had negatively impacted my teachers' attitudes towards me. Especially my math teacher, who said in front of the whole class that I was no longer a girl, that now I was a woman. I was still only 14. I could not believe how a "teacher" could say that, instead of wishing you the best to keep going.
After I graduated from Secondary (middle school in Mexico), my mother tried to get us a visa to move with my dad in the U.S. When my son was 5 months old we traveled to San Francisco CA. So I started a new life in a new country, learning a new language, with a little son.
I have always tried to be resilient about any situation in my life. The best way for me to keep moving forward was to keep my mind focused on school. At Mission High I found support in educational community that I didn't expect, and despite the fact that I had a baby, unlike Mexico, the teachers tried to connect with their students and have encouraged us to attend college.
Since I started my freshman year in high school, I have met many teachers who encouraged me to attend college and supported me in my classes. I took honors classes and succeeded in ways that make my family proud. I have confidence that I can get a college diploma and that I can be a true example for my son. And I have decided that my education will not only be for me and my family, but for my community.
In my junior year I started to get interested in History. I like the way people have fought for their rights. But it has been in my senior year, in my Ethnic Studies and American Democracy classes, that I have realized I want to be an activist, to keep pushing for what our ancestors have fought for. I have been involved in protests for the 43 students who have been killed in Mexico, because I realize that this could happen to any Mexican at any time due to the corruption of the Mexican government. My ethnic studies class has tapped into my desire to make a difference in my community. It is giving me knowledge that I can share with other generations, not only with my Latino community but with all the communities that live here.
My life has changed a great deal since that math teacher embarrassed me in front of my class. And I will continue to stay focused and try to accomplish these goals.
Having a baby, and being able to take care of him while I move my life forward, is my biggest source of pride. When I got pregnant, my mom told me that my life would change completely and I took it seriously. I practiced a type of yoga that made me release negative energy. I ate healthy foods. When I was 8 months pregnant, I walked hills to a river to be spiritually cleansed. I stayed in school in Mexico until I was almost 9 months pregnant and when I gave birth I named my baby Miguel after the angel and Baseer, meaning "power of earth".
I am proud I have never left school and that I am in college now. Because my time to study at home is limited, I pay extra attention during class, listening to my teachers' lectures. I spend my free time at school doing homework. Each day I drive my mom to work, drop Miguel off at daycare, go to school, then pick up Miguel, pick up my mother and drive home. My mother has never asked me to work at a job because she wants me to focus on school. I feel my mother loves me a lot and wants the best for me.
Today I give Miguel all the emotional support he needs, but one day I'll give him the financial support as well. Being a teenage mother, I realize I can do multiple tasks each day and that my life hasn't stopped. I can no longer do what teenagers do but I've done the unexpected - getting good grades, raising a healthy kid - and that makes me proud.