Prompt: What field do you intend to pursue if you receive the CHCI Scholarship, and how will the Latino community benefit?
Recently, a Hispanic organization that I am in hosted an "open mic" event where students could listen to inspirational stories from professors and other students in regards to the struggles that Latinos face in order to pursue a high education. Several of us told our parents' stories, and I at first hesitated to tell the story of my mother, but I did not want people to assume that, because I was American-born, I did not know the struggles of an immigrant.
When I was four years old, my mother and I lived in a homeless shelter for battered women in up state New York. She was a victim of domestic violence, had nowhere to live, and carried another child in her womb. Yet, this wasn't the worst she has had to experience. She survived the horrors of the Salvadoran civil war when she was a child, she endured the pain and humility after she was raped as a teenager and had no one to tell since it was difficult to receive any help in her country. Now here she was-- with nothing but her two children. After my brother was born, we were sent back to El Salvador, while she stayed in the United States working as a dishwasher in a restaurant. That entire time without her was the worst experience I have had yet. I was used to sleeping in the car with her on those cold, wintery nights back in New York. It did not matter where we were or how unpleasant the environment might have been; as long as she held me in her arms, I felt safe.
Fourteen years later, I am sitting here writing this paper in the student center of the University of Georgia. I am an undergraduate student majoring in International Affairs, pursuing a future in Law School, and hoping to acquire a doctorate in Immigration Law. The reasoning behind this is the events that I experienced with my mother and knowing that many other families go through similar, if not worse, situations. My mother was an undocumented immigrant who was lucky to receive residency because of the violent relationship she encountered with my father, all thanks to the Violence Against Women Act signed by President Bill Clinton at the time. Had it not been for the policies that the United States formed with other countries under the TPS, my mother would not have stayed in United States prior to the signing of the act, and I certainly wouldn't be where I am now. I have learned thus far that although our government must first begin from the inside out, sometimes, it can be more impactful to start from the outside in. The interdependence of governments, especially between major world powers and third world countries, creates opportunities for people that really need to give life a second chance.
I used to believe that the United States should focus on domestic issues, but I have learned that some things are inevitable and unfixable. Americans have a tendency of complaining for the little that their government provides to them, when in reality they lack a real perspective. They are shocked when they are exposed to the problems faced by people in countries not as powerful as ours. Luckily, my interest in international policies and global issues has let me become more open-minded. I want to represent the United States and cooperate with Latin American governments, which would allow me to contribute ideas that could help people just like my mother.
My past influences the path I have created, but getting through it is the challenge.