When immigrants speak about the importance of coming to the U.S. to build a better life for their children, the statement may seem too broad for some to understand what that truly means. For people with privileged backgrounds, the idea that immigrants would work multiple jobs, cleaning houses, working the fields outside in extreme temperatures, or the endless type of work that they would never comprehend about doing, is something not even on their radar.
For children of immigrants, we can understand that because that is all we know. That’s why moments like prom, graduation, or landing that first job is such a big deal.
A Latina honored her hardworking parents by appearing alongside them in her college graduation cap and gown.
Anna Ocegueda, a 22-year-old, who will be graduating from the University of California Merced tweeted a picture of her mom and dad in their working clothes.
Her parents have been working in the agriculture fields for more than 25 years.
“Knowing they’re out there working in the hot sun kept me going and doing it for them,” Ocegueda told NBC News.
Her viral tweet included the phrase, “Por Ustedes y Para Ustedes.”
“I think people relate to it because they know what it’s like to have parents who are working difficult jobs to support us,” she said. “They know that going to school will be a way to build a better life not only for themselves but for their parents as well.”
People on social media are praising her and her parents. They’re also sharing their own stories of persrervernce as children of immigrants.
They raise her right!
She also got a major shoutout from her own school.
UC Merced is a great school and they’re so supportive of their students.
The university chancellor responded to her tweet as well.
We bet they’re going to get an increase of admission applications from Latinx children of immigrants.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Her parents must be so proud.
These are the stories we live for!
With so much negativity out in the world, this tweet totally makes up for it.
So many amazing first generation college grads.
Just like their parents, they too have overcome so much.
If you’re ever feeling hopeless about finishing school, this picture will help.
If she can do it, you can too.
She has a couple of more weeks to go!
We hope she posts a video of the big moment as well.
The UC system is a great institution for Latinx students.
Graduation ceremonies are a little slice of life and society. Behind every cap and stole there are stories of heroism and struggle not only involving the graduates but often having to do with their parents. Moms and dads all over the world have done their best to see their children enjoy better opportunities in life. As the value of labor has shifted from privileging manual work and trades to giving more to those who work with information, traditional occupations such as farming have been affected by a decline in wages and by the crushing shadow of big companies (nowadays it is very hard for any farmer to subsist on their own). That is why stories that involve farmer parents seeing their kids graduate from university are so inspiring. If you have worked in the fields as a picker or even if you have done some gardening under the blistering sun you know how much of a toll working in a field can take on your body. If you haven’t, look to a father’s or uncle’s or Abuelo’s hands and focus on the callous surface that endless hours of working with la tierra has done to the skin. Every wrinkle tells a story of survival and proud trabajo.
In honor of farmers worldwide, and to celebrate Farm Workers Day, we have chosen some inspirational snippets of life featuring graduates and their farmer parents, who worked with their hands so their offspring’s mind could thrive. There are not enough ways to say gracias, are there?
This graduate who honors her farmer parents
Credit: Twitter. @UCMerced
Merced Anna Ocegueda is a Latina college senior who graduated from University of California, Merced, earlier this year. This 22-year-old psychology major posted this picture on Twitter. As they say, una imagen dice + que mil palabras. Her parents are still wearing their picking equipment. Her post went viral and soon newspapers started knocking in the door. Ocegueda told The Fresno Bee: “My parents came here for a better future and a better life for their children. “The educational opportunities weren’t great. My parents encouraged me to better my education so I wouldn’t have to work in the fields like them.”
For Selena Huapilla-Perez graduation she dressed up in her cap and gown and posed in the fruit fields alongside her parents to honor their sacrifice as farmers.
In a post about her gruadtion, Huapilla said “I always tell my parents, my sisters and brother that this belongs more to them than to me.” This year she graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Michigan State University.
This recent grad went above and beyond to make her dreams come true, thanks to her hard work, and her parent’s struggles.
Erica Alfaro, a 29-year-old, dedicated her master’s degree with her parents and celebrated with a powerful photoshoot where they work.
This Brazilian queen who thanked her farmer parents during her graduation ceremony
Credit: YouTube. @AlamedaCasaEditorial
It is a moment worthy of a few tears. A Brazilian student stops the party, descends the stairs and calls her parents. Everyone claps. They all know that her family is de origen humilde and that they have moved Heaven and Earth for her to be there. You can watch this tender and empowering moment here.
Farmer parents sure teach some good ethics and excellent saving skills
Credit: Twitter. @KillerPunchZero
If precarious conditions can teach you anything is that you gotta take care of what you got. Farming is such a serendipitous occupation (a flood or a tornado can wipe out the years harvest and any earnings for the coming months, as many farmers have recently experienced throughout our climate-change-stricken planet), that those que trabajan en el campo know that life is better with no debt. What a great lesson. Hard work, dedication.
De tal palo tal astilla
Credit: Twitter. @BigDuce79
So who is proud of who? The farmer father who sent his son to college or the son whose father sent him? Well, it is both. Struggle can either bring people closer together or split them apart. We hope it is always the latter.
Can you spare a minute and read this amazing story?
Credit: Facebook. Humans of Bombay
India is a country where social mobility is almost impossible. Many regions of the Southeast Asian country still live under a caste system that basically translates in zero opportunities for those who are born with nothing or with very little. That is why this story from the amazing storytelling collective Humans of Bombay is so powerful. It is the story of a father who had to migrate to the city from his farming village. There, he leads a simple life but makes sure his son goes to university. The son’s attitude will melt your heart. Does the story sound familiar? We are sure it resonates with many Latino families across the United States.
The son of a Filipino farmer who got a full scholarship at Harvard
Credit: filipino-farmer-son-gets-full-scholarship-from-harvard-university-proves-hard-work-beats-fate-2.jpg. Digital image. The Development Times
The Philippines is one of the most unequal countries in the world, an impoverished nation that up until today has failed to keep up with other Asian economies. As much as 15% of Filipinos work overseas as domestic workers or construction workers. Those who live in the country need to work extra hard just to make ends meet. So the story of Romnick Blanco, the son of a rice and vegetable farmer, is the stuff that dreams are made of. He received a full scholarship to study at Harvard after excelling at his high school in Manila. By the way, he had to cross a river every single day to go to school.
Credit: q2-5. Digital image. Readers Portal.
His father was a cocoa farmer and his mother sold coal, he is now a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania
Credit: IMG_20180419_173741. Digital image. Savannah News Online
Conditions for farmers in Africa are tough, as multinational corporations pay low wages for prices products such as cocoa. Shadrack Osei Frimpong is a Ghanian dynamo who excelled at school and made his way to the United States. He is now giving back to his community, establishing a tuition-free girls’ school in his village. What an inspiring young man. Those who succeed despite a tough beginning are often the most generous and amazing human beings. African youth face many challenges, including guerrilla warfare, human trafficking and disease, so it is amazing to see ow someone from a rural area could actually work towards better conditions not only for himself, but for his whole community.
Last but not least, this Indonesian son of farmers who graduated from Columbia University in New York City
Credit: 10.-Graduation-S2-1. Digital Image. Mengglobal Indonesia
Robinson Sinurat is the fifth child of a family of seven. His parents did not finish their schooling because of financial struggles, so the odds were stacked against Robinson. He knew that he wanted to study physics, so he borrowed money from a friend to pay for university fees in Indonesia and ate only once a day. After graduating from college he worked in an NGO in the capital city of Jakarta, where he started studying English to apply for graduate school. His academic and professional accomplishments caught the eye of Columbia… and the rest, as they say, is history. You can read all about his improbable journey here.
This hombre hermoso from Thailand whose dirty clothes speak of a tough life
Credit: Facebook. @Chesney O’Donnell
The contrast is striking. This Thai farmer almost looks shy in front of the camera. The moraleja is clear: be very, very thankful for everything that your parents have done for you.
All over the country groups and nonprofits are taking it upon themselves to deal with the immigration crisis in a humane way. They are doing what the government cannot: provide help to thousands of undocumented migrants looking for refuge. However, helping people isn’t as easy as one may think. Dr. Scott Warren was just on trial this week for giving undocumented migrants water and food. Thankfully the trial ended in a hung jury, but that goes to show that in this country, people do risk prosecution for giving people the dignity they deserve. That is why the story of these women warms our heart.
A group of women received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for their advocacy of undocumented people.
The women, who call their organization the Angry Tias and Abuelas, got honored last week for helping undocumented people transition from the moment that government officials release them from detention.
Here’s their mission: To advocate for dignity and justice for individuals and families seeking asylum at our borders. As they embark on their journeys to destinations across the U.S., our aim is to assure their basic health and safety needs are met. We provide emergency assistance such as food, water, clothing, toiletries, logistical support, and cash funds when needed to those recently released from ICE custody at bus depots or shelters in Brownsville and McAllen. We inform asylum seekers of their rights as they await entry across international bridges and give direct financial support to refugee shelters in the RGV and select immigrant shelters in Matamoros and Reynosa.
While the group said the award means everything to them, they are more frustrated with how the government is treating people at the border.
“Yes, we are mad,” she told NBC News. “We’re mad at the brutality of the United States government against the same people who are the same background as our own. These are families seeking safety from repression exactly like our own forefathers.”
The group launched just last year after seeing groups of women and children sleeping outside in torturous heat.
“It was quite a shocking scene,” Joyce Hamilton told CBS News about their first encounter with undocumented people. She said that her friends gathered to do something about it and help any way they could.
“We started talking to each other and meeting, and then enough of us were seeing each other enough times that some of us met for coffee at my house just to talk about coordinating a little bit and we formed the Angry Tias, thinking it would last for a few months,” Jennifer Harbury also said to CBS News. But the issue has not been resolved, and so they’ve continued to work.
Click here if you’d like more information on how you can help the Angry Tias and Abuelas group.