As a young man I remember waking up early on the weekends and summer break to work in the peach fields in the futile crescent of Northern California for my father, who happened to be the field boss for a local fruit packing company. I despised this early morning routine and remember saying to myself, “I never do these kinds of jobs when I grow up!” My parents who would often say to my siblings and I, “If you don’t get your education, you will be doing these jobs all your life” reinforced my exact sentiments. Sure enough, it didn’t take much to motivate me to attend school; numb hands in the winter months and a parched mouth in the summer heat were enough to motivate me to attend college. At least I did not have to wake up to, “Muchachos, es hora – levantensen! Vamonos a trabajar!” (Young men, it’s time – get up! Let’s go to work!). At first, those words bothered me as a young Latino male, but today they inspire me.
College did not come easy for me but I persevered through writing labs and papers, preparing speeches and speaking in front of large classes, and learning to say “no” to my friends in the moment so I could say “hello” to my future. Today, my four brothers, sister and I possess Bachelor’s degrees, while some of us have earned Master’s degrees. I owe a debt of gratitude to my father and mother; the visionary immigrants from Mexico. From this experience, I have some advice to impart to young Latinos – wisdom calls out from many places, are you listening? Don’t stall your education for a few moments of pleasure. Life is too short, then you wake up one day with regret on your mind – “Man, I should’ve gone to college!”
I acquired my Bachelor’s degree 7 years out from graduating from High School. And in May of 2009, I received my Master’s degree from Regent University in Organizational Leadership, with an emphasis in mentoring and coaching. And, as soon as I pay off my student loans, my dream is to attend Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California for my Doctorate.
What’s your story? Are you part of the 12% of Latinos who possess a four year degree?