Made it in America

Best thing about the holidays is getting the opportunity to reconnect with relatives, friends, and classmates from the past. Returning to my hometown, time moves a little slower. During these few days the email auto-reply is on, deadlines are nonexistent, and there’s no rush to get on to the next task. I can enjoy café y pan dulce with my grandparents, go to lunch with my college friends, and just sit and watch a movie with my parents. It makes me appreciate the people in my life and reminds me that my achievements are their achievements. That my success is based on their years of hard work.

The song featured above is the reason why I’m writing this post. It motivated me to reflect on where I’ve been, and where I’m going. “Made in America” is a song featuring Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean. Take a listen, if you haven’t already. The song is about fighting for the dreams you hold dear. It’s about remembering those before you that paved the way for your success. It’s about telling your story on how you made the American Dream become a reality.

It was 1967 when my grandfather decided to “move” to the US and work to bring his family to the land of opportunity. Living in Chicago for a few years, he raised enough money to bring his family to the US. Now living in California, my grandmother and mother joined my grandpa in 1971. Since I’m not trying to write an anthology, I’ll focus on my family’s educational history.

My family is from Central America, paternal side from Mexico and maternal side from Guatemala. Growing up in the 1930s my grandfather finished primary school (equivalent to 8th grade) before he had to work to support his family. My grandmother growing up in the rural countryside of Guatemala was restricted from going to school as a woman. Instead of books, they gave her an iron.

My parents immigrated as children to the United States in the early 1970s. They transitioned into the American education system around the second grade. My mom finished high school, my dad was able to get his GED. My mom enrolled at a community college but dropped out during her first semester. Slowly, generationally, we were moving forward and progressing.

Fast forwarding to the 2000s it was now the norm to finish high school. Although a family of high schools graduates many decided not to go further. In 2006, I was the first in my extended family to attend and graduate college. Since then, I’m proud to say, we’ve had a lot more relatives attend and graduate with their college degrees.

Through the generations, my family has been able to educate themselves, become US citizens, and create better opportunities for themselves. My grandparents have enjoyed over 40 years of life in America and are now retired. My parents own a business and are successful in their enterprises. I’ve been able to receive my Master’s degree and hope to be the first in my family with a Ph.D.

It’s seems as if we’ve made it in America. Looking at our history, it is a strong reminder that education is the path to self-determination. The path to success was paved by decades of hard work by my family. I give thanks to those that came before me and made it easier for future generations to have access to opportunities never afforded before. We continue to move forward, knowing the future holds great things.

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