Culture

From Diapers To Dorms, I Worked Hard To Make Sure My Baby Sister Could Go To College

As a first generation college student, as well as the first person in my family to be born in the United States, there was many things I had to figure out on my own.

CREDIT: The author (left) and her sister. Photo credit: Betsy Aimee

When it came to college it always felt like there was an assumption that all parents knew a lot about the process and were heavily involved; That they were signing me up for SAT classes, flying across the country with me to look at colleges and had a vast network of friends that were ready to offer me internships.

They supported me in many other ways and cultivated in me a desire to pursue higher education, but for the most part I was their window into the mainstream “American” world, so their ability to help was limited.

It was a blessing to be so self-reliant at a young age but at the same time I carried many things in isolation and there was an emotional toll that took on me. I’m not complaining, as I have lived a life of privilege and opportunity that many people, my parents included, could only have dreamed of.

Because of this it always felt like I couldn’t burden my parents with my “problems” when they worked so hard to provide me with housing and transportation, and the occasional luxury. It’s not that my parents didn’t care, they just didn’t know what they didn’t know. It would have been great to have an adult, or older sibling to offer me support at that stage of my life.

My sister was born when I was 16 years old. I realized that life had given me a special opportunity. As the oldest daughter to our father who emigrated from rural Mexico to the United States decades before, I felt like I was her official guide to first-gen life.

CREDIT: The author’s sister. Photo credit: Betsy Aimee

When I was in college, in between class, work, friends and boys, I would pick her up in my shiny, red Mustang. I didn’t always have tons of money, but I tried to expose her to as many things as I could. I would take her to the Festival of Books at UCLA and we’d walk around local universities. On trips we would drive through schools and talk about what her life would be like when she was a young woman.

When she was in elementary school I read an essay she had written. In it she said that I was her role model. It was a stark reminder to be better, and do better. After all, my sister was watching.

When I graduated from college with honors she was 8 years old. My dad pulled her and my brother out of school to attend my commencement ceremony. I remember her sitting on the bleachers in her pink dress looking up at me proudly. She told me later that was the moment she knew she wanted to go to college too!

As she got older, we talked about the fact that so very few Latinx people actually graduate from college, and that while not everyone needs college to be successful, education is an important way to advance our entire community. I told her that seeking to be the best people we could be was a way to honor the sacrifices of our father and her mother (my stepmother).

As she went through middle school and the early years of high school, we talked about classes she could take that would put her on the “college track.” I am sure sometimes it felt more like I was an annoying helicopter mom than a cool older sister. I also made sure to be honest about mistakes I made, and things I didn’t know then that I wish I had known.

Last year, I helped her write her essays for her college applications. In the midst of my own crazy life, which now includes a child of my own, I always tried to set aside time to be there for her when she needed me.

When she started getting her acceptances, I cried. We went to look at colleges together earlier this year.

CREDIT: The author and her sister at her sister’s high school graduation. Photo credit: Betsy Aimee

After some debate, she decided on Mount Saint Mary’s College near home in Los Angeles. Then she announced she would be living in the dorms. I reassured my father that this was a tremendous opportunity for her to immerse herself in the culture of the university and be focused on her studies. When she needed to appeal her financial aid award, of course, I wrote it.

We went shopping for her dorm supplies together and part of me was super excited she was going to have the experience I never had. That is the thing about being a first generation big sister, like a parent, you want things for your siblings that you couldn’t have for yourself.

I also told her something that I wish someone had told me at her age. I told her that she is more than the sum of her accomplishments; that the determination and ethics that had gotten her to college would carry her through life no matter what happened.

I told her this because I also know that there is a particular type of guilt that plagues first-generation kids like us. We feel like we will never fully repay our parents for our sacrifices and we can punish ourselves harshly for any mistakes we make.

Recently, my family and I, including my father, brother and stepmother, moved her into her dorm. It was a bittersweet moment because, in my mind, she’s still a little girl looking up at me with wonder. But looking at me now is a bright, level-headed, hard-working young woman moving towards her future with the hopes of all her ancestors resting on her shoulders.

CREDIT: Photo credit: Betsy Aimee

As we walked back to the car my dad told me, “You should have more children. I would be having a much harder time letting go of your sister if I didn’t have you and your brother too.” I said, “Dad, what are you talking about? This one counts as one of mine too.”

While my sister has learned from me, being her big sister opened up a doorway to love and understanding the importance of mentorship for first generation kids.

After all, It is up to us who have paved the way to make sure we are leaving the door open for everyone coming behind us.


READ: While Homesickness During College Is Hard Enough As It Is, This Latino Student Explains Why It’s Been Even More Difficult For Him

Share this story by clicking that little button below!

Here’s Why Everyone Is Celebrating This Chicago Teen And His Acceptance To Harvard

Culture

Here’s Why Everyone Is Celebrating This Chicago Teen And His Acceptance To Harvard

YeahThatsAmado / YouTube

As Latinos, making it through higher education is never easy. For some, there is the stress of being the first in our families to attend college or just being able to afford school in general. That’s why it’s special every time we hear about a fellow Latino’s success in the classroom. 

This applies to Amado Candelario, a Harvard freshman, who is proof of overcoming barriers and following your college dreams. The world was first introduced to him last December when he shared a “reaction video” on his YouTube channel showing the exact moment he found out he was accepted into Harvard. The emotional video quickly went viral with over 33K views to this date. For Candelario, who was raised by his immigrant mother from Mexico and two sisters in West Lawn, Chicago, Harvard was always his dream. 

“There were a lot of tears shed because it’s a big thing for somebody like me, for the community that I come from, to get accepted to a prestigious university like Harvard. For that, I’m grateful,” Candelario told 7NewsBoston after his video went viral.

First, let’s rewatch Amado Candelario finding out he got accepted to Harvard.

Some people sacrifice so much to make sure they get into their dream school. There is nothing more exciting than watching that hard work pay off for someone who deserves it. The world collectively celebrated for Candelario when he found out he was going to be in the new class at Harvard.

Getting into Harvard was one thing but fast forward almost a year later and Candelario is getting well-deserved recognition once again. 

Credit: lovedcandle / Instagram

For this young man, getting to college was reason enough to celebrate. Candelario came from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago where going to college isn’t always the first choice for many. He sought higher education as a way to escape his circumstances and build a better future for himself and his family. Beyond just getting accepted to Harvard he also needed a way to pay for it. According to the school’s website, the total 2018-2019 cost of attending Harvard University without financial aid is $67,580 for tuition, room, board, and fees combined.

“I needed to figure out how to provide for myself and how I could give back to my mom and to my family that has done so much for me, and college seemed like the way to do that,” he told NBC News. “The only thing people ever talked about when you mentioned was how good it was and how it was the best post-secondary education you could get. I grew up in a lot of poverty and violence and I wanted something better for myself.”

His background and everything he overcame to be where he is has left a lasting impact.

Credit: @lovedcandle / Twitter

Being one of the few low-income and first-generation students from Chicago in his graduating class has made Candelario a viral star once again. Few in his class to understand the magnitude of his achievement and now the world is taking notice. 

“I’m the only kid at Harvard right now, class of 2023, that’s from Chicago and didn’t go to a selective enrollment school, a private school, a predominately affluent suburban school,” Candelario wrote in a tweet that has received more than 87,000 likes as of today. “I’m the only Chicago neighborhood school kid. It’s sad but I DID THAT and I’m proud of myself!!”

Candelario is defying statistics when it comes to Latinos getting into Harvard. He is one of only less than 16 percent of a total of 4.5 percent of accepted applicants that got into Harvard in 2019.

Credit: lovedcandle / Instagram

Getting to this point was never easy for him. Candelario attended Eric Solorio Academy High School, which was located on the Southwest Side of Chicago, a notoriously low-income area. It was there that he joined various programs that helped guide him through the college application process and was assisted with financial aid assistance. 

The transition to college hasn’t been easy as well for Candelario. At times he feels like an outsider in a school where he’s one of very few that fully understand what it means to come to be a first-generation college student. These emotions have only fueled him to finish what is expected to be the first of many steps. While Candelario hasn’t declared an official concentration just yet, he told NBC News that he’s interested in pursuing political science and economics. He hopes with his education he can one day become a lawyer and help those that come from marginalized backgrounds.

“I feel like for kids who come from marginalized backgrounds, being realistic can limit them,” Candelario told NBC News. “I feel like you have to dream big and tell your intentions to the world. All of high school, even as a freshman, I told people I wanted to go to Harvard. I put it in my Instagram bio, even though I wasn’t accepted. There’s something powerful about manifesting and verbalizing what you want and telling yourself you are capable of that.”

READ: JLo Totally Dragged Some Super Stars In A 1998 Interview That’s Now Going Viral And OMG The Shade

Arizona’s Republican Governor Applauds New Rule Giving DACA Students Discount On College Tuition

Things That Matter

Arizona’s Republican Governor Applauds New Rule Giving DACA Students Discount On College Tuition

Governor Doug Ducey / Facebook

Republican Governor Doug Ducey took an unprecedented stance this week when he applauded the decision to offer a discount to Arizona’s undocumented students. Last Thursday, the Arizona Board of Regents voted 8-0 to cut the tuition cost for DACA students. 

In 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court had reversed in-state tuition eligibility for DACA students, which put graduation in jeopardy and education on hold for many. This was a huge set back from the 2015 victory, which came after almost a decade of fighting for in-state eligibility.

The cost to attend Arizona universities and/or colleges is estimated at around $11,00 for students with citizenship documentation. Students without documentation were required to pay out-of-state tuition which is around $30,000. Now, with the discounted rate, tuition for undocumented students will come down to around $16,000. This is still more than in-state tuition, but it does make the dream of obtaining a higher education, that is much closer for thousands of students.

Students in Arizona have shown their support for fair tuition for DACA students.

Credit: @TucsonStar / Twitter

In a recent interview with KJZZ, Governor Ducey spoke at length on a range of topics, including immigration. He had stated in the past that he would support all measures of increased border security and yet has not signed any bills that would imply heavy added border measures.

“Well listen, I think somebody that graduates from an Arizona high school is an Arizona kid, and I want to see them have Arizona opportunities in front of them. So I congratulate the regents for the first step around this,” Governor Ducey told KJZZ. “But I do believe that if you are here and graduate from an Arizona high school, you should have the same opportunities that anyone else that graduates from Arizona high schools has.”

Gov. Ducey is celebrating the news that DACA student will receive lower tuition rates for college.

Governor Doug Ducey / AZgovernor.Gov

Democratic leaders are still watching him closely. One of Governor Ducey’s first bills signed into law was the requirement that all high school students must take and pass the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization civics citizenship test in order to graduate. 

Keep in mind fewer than 13 percent of average Americans could pass that 100-question exam. In order to fulfill the graduation requirement, you pass 60 out of 100. Arizona is the first to state to pass such a law.

Regardless of his latest praise, people are still wary of Gov. Ducey’s longterm goals.

Credit: Governor Doug Ducey / Facebook

On the subject of white supremacy, it’s a toss-up.  During this past 4th of July, Americans were divided on the Nike shoe issue. Some folks felt that it was unpatriotic for Nike to pull the plug on the Betsy Ross flag-inspired design, rallying being a white nationalist ideal, meanwhile, the majority of the rest of us, realized that this was a huge nod to the days of slavery and why hell would we celebrated that!?

Gov. Ducey’s own beliefs have caused some people to pause over the years.

Credit: @dougducey / Twitter

At the time, Nike was ready to open a new facility in Arizona but then the governor pulled the Nike incentive package, angry at the fact that Nike had canceled the distribution of the colonial- era flag sneaker, which they felt was racially charged and not in sync with Nike values.

Democrats called him out for supporting ideas that were in line with the racist right-wing side of the Republican party.

Credit: @RepRubenGallego / Twitter

Then, a week later, the Republican Governor flip-flopped and denied that he ever pulled the incentive packed. He welcomed the Nike manufacturing facility to Goodyear, Arizona. The new site is expected to create more than 500 full-time jobs. 

It is no secret that before the Trump administration, Arizona was known for creating some of the harshest anti-immigration laws in the nation.

Credit: azgov / Instagram

Under former Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer the controversial SB 1070, better known as the “show me your papers” law which opened the door to racial profiling by law enforcement, was passed. Brewer also signed into law HB 2281, banning Mexican-American studies, the law was later ruled to be racist and unconstitutional by a federal judge.

In 2014 Ducey – then the state’s treasurer and the former CEO of Stone Cold Creamery – threw his hat into the ring of politics, running against Governor Jan Brewer. He defeated her and then went on to also win his reelection in 2018.

During his two terms, Ducey has managed to stay out of the fray, from both sides of the political aisle.

Credit: Governor Doug Ducey  / Facebook

For the most part, he hasn’t passed any anti-immigration policies that are on the level of his predecessor, but this an election year and anything could change.

What does this all mean for Arizona? The jury is still out on that one. His campaign website says very little about immigration, sticking mostly to “border security” issues in regard to drug trafficking.

For many, the deciding factor will be whether-or-not the governor will show support for notorious ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio recently announced that he is running for the office of sheriff again despite his infamous tenure characterized by his unapologetic and inhumane treatment of inmates and racial targeting of Latinos. He described his outside tents as “concentration camps” where migrants were housed outside in the 120-degree Arizona heat. In his time as sheriff of Maricopa County, more than 120 people died in his jails, 24 percent of those from suicide.

In 2017, after an investigation had been conducted, he was tried and found guilty of criminal contempt by a federal judge, stemming from a racial profiling case. However, President Trump granted him a full presidential pardon.

We will be ready to fight that battle should it come, but for right now, let’s have a moment to celebrate for our undocumented brothers and sisters from Arizona, this is some much needed good news. A chance, a hope, to seek the next level of education and plan for the future.

READ: He Was Convicted Of Racial Profiling But Now America’s ‘Toughest Sheriff’ Is Running For His Old Job