Story courtesy of Anita Gonzalez, MS in Counseling – School Counseling Student
I was raised by two amazing immigrants from Zacatecas, Mexico! My parents came to the United States with hopes to offer my brother and I a better future from what they had. My parents risked their lives crossing the border and living horrible experiences to give us the AMERICAN DREAM. Many people unfortunately, can’t make it but my parents were lucky enough to make it and offer us a better life.
I am the youngest in my family out of two. My first language is Spanish and I did not learn English until the end of elementary school.
I struggled to learn English because I only spoke it very little in school. All my school work and homework were in Spanish and I felt like an outcast during school. I was bullied in high school because I was not able to pronounce certain words. This affected me emotionally and also personally. I should have been considered an at-risk student because I was struggling not only emotionally but also academically. This was overlooked though. Adjusting to school was very difficult and sometimes I remember feeling intimidated by certain teachers, mostly the ones who were white.
I wasn’t recognized or acknowledged in school and was overlooked by many. This is one of the reasons why I want to become a school counselor, to recognize and acknowledge the ones who are being overseen.
I want to make an impact on the students who need it the most. This may be a common reason for many helping professionals. However, seeing how much it affected me and the fact that I lived it, makes a huge difference. I would not like to see people struggling over things that I am able to help. I want to help people in general but I would like to focus on students who’s English is their 2nd language.
I am a first generation college student, the first one ever to come to graduate school in my family. I did not have any resources to help me, I got lost and I even remember a week before college started, August 2011, I was crying because of how scared I felt to come to Fresno State. My parents didn’t really understand what was going on in the course of my career but they support me and trust me that I will be someone big and will make them and family proud. I am proud to be first-generation though, I am proud to be the first in my family to come to graduate school. It is an honor to learn outside my family’s beliefs and still have their support.
Even though I have had many challenges in my earlier life, this has made me stronger and has opened my mind to different perspectives! Not only that but FAMILY and friends have been a great support. From Mom, Dad, cousins, my best friends, and now my biggest motivation: MY SON, Emanuel! My son came into my life unexpectedly but little did I know, that is when I needed him the most. I needed my son without knowing I needed him.
Being a first time mother, full-time graduate student, working and trying to complete an internship, can really be exhausting! I had my son when I first started the Master’s program. My son was born October 16, 2016 and this is the time of the year when all midterms and papers are due. I was in the hospital a week after I gave birth and I remember trying to complete an assignment in the hospital bed but I could not do it because I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I had to miss class for about a month (or so) because I had a few complications but all my professors at that time understood and gave me extra time to complete it. I still had to complete it though! I finished my first semester of graduate school with a 4.00 and a newborn in my arms. I was completely lost and confused, not to say exhausted!
In addition, having the support of some staff members, such as, Dr. Lopez, Dr. Sharma, my academic advisor, my professors, Dr. Lomack, Jessica Bloom and among other meaningful professors. They have been there for me and showed me what I am capable of and what I, as a LATINA, am able to do all at once.
Personally, I am those types of people who does not ask for help. I do not like to be handed stuff. However, I think with everything that was going on in my life at once, I just had to reach out for help. I started to meet with my professors and started to speak up and be an advocator for myself. I now meet with my mentor, Dr. Lopez, every now and again. We talk about school, grades, internships and even personal events happening in my life. I see her sometimes as my personal therapist. Sometimes we need to vent and rant about certain things. Regardless, she has supported me and motivated me to keep on going. Dr. Lopez, is an awesome person and I am proud to call her my mentor.
Additionally, my academic advisor, Dr. Sharma has also been there for me when I needed guidance. She has supported me as well and has guided me on the right pathway and has helped me get to where I am now.
I also decided to reach out for another type of help because I was struggling financially. Everyone at some point (graduate college students) struggles financially, I think. So I reached out for help, I applied to some scholarships and grants. I was hesitant but my mentor, Dr. Lopez helped me through the process of applying. I was thankful for her and to be receiving her help. I then was selected to receive the Graduate Net Initiative’s Internship Grant and was also selected to receive the Dr. Marion and Kremen Scholarship this semester. I was blessed and of course, super excited to have been selected. I was honored to be receiving help at this point.
It is okay to ask for help at times, it is okay to be vulnerable and recognize that you are tired. Being a Latina can be exhausting but it is a privilege to be one and I am embracing my culture, beliefs, background and myself.
I had to learn the hard way through this maze road to education but it is okay now because there is nothing more powerful than an educated woman. All the opportunities are out there, you just have to learn or have a mentor to help guide you, like I have Dr. Lopez and Dr. Sharma.
You may feel lost but that’s the beauty of feeling proud and successful at the end. Education is our most powerful weapon.
I love being a Latina, a graduate student, and a mother. I am thankful to have taken this path and because of this I can say I am wise but I am looking forward what this world has for me and I will be ready for it. Mi Corazon late en dos idiomas (My heart Beats in two languages) because being bilingual is a privilege and I am part of two worlds whom I am honored to be.
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