By Griselda Garnica

It is difficult to fit in, especially when you are in a place where you don’t belong. I was brought to the U.S at the age of 15 while my parents decided to stay in Mexico. I came here on what I thought was a “family vacation” only to find myself suddenly alone, caring for my niece, nephew, my little brother, and myself. The reality of leaving a warm, nuclear family, struggling in a foreign country, and working to pay bills made me cry myself to sleep most nights. Even though the cultural differences and language barriers played a big part, I struggled but managed to deal with them. I graduated within three years of high school. Thanks to my insecurities, I never made any friends, and they seemed not to like “Mexicans”. My survival instincts kicked in, I tried to be unnoticed. I was, however, fortunate enough to meet a few great people. One of them was Mr. Hardy, an AVID teacher, who motivated me to join pre-Ap and AP classes, and thanks to that extra effort I was able to be part of the National Honor Society. He was the only one that celebrated any small milestone that I achieved. Even though I had support in school, I was captive under my oldest brother’s sexist ideas. He wasn’t an advocate of girls getting higher education, and being independent or following a dream, so he decided not to support me and convinced my parents to agree with his retrograde beliefs. Time passed and I wasn’t able to register in any university. I put aside my dreams but I never forgot them. Luckily, I found a partner who believes in me and encouraged me to revive my dreams and enroll at the local community college. I was incredulous at first. I hadn’t been in school in almost a decade. This time I was married, and with my own kids, and still battling my insecurities around communication in English. Once I arrived at ACC, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t even know the registration process, but just as I did in high school, I was able to find wonderful people enthusiastic to help me. ACC has offered me the opportunity to believe in myself again, feed my desire to become someone in the future, it has given me the tools necessary to encourage my hunger to succeed; now, I feel pride in being an immigrant from a small Mexican town who is also part of the alumni of one of the best community colleges in Texas. I wasn’t brave enough to fight for my dreams in my adolescence. It wasn’t my time. Now that I have a new opportunity given to me, I want to make a difference, and take advantage of it. I want to pursue my dream, demonstrate to my kids that education is a right, and make them feel proud of their mom. And I want to be proud of myself, to look at my background, and feel satisfied with who I am: an immigrant, a mom, and an independent woman.

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