This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them
Alejandra López is getting ready to graduate from University of California, Berkeley and a few weeks she wrote a powerful message on Facebook about the power of family – and the Internet loved it. Next month she will be graduating with a degree in Sociology and Social work and she told mitú that her goals include getting a Ph.D so she can become a professor. López also talked to us about her powerful Facebook post, overcoming her own obstacles, and how she used the perceptions of her family to get to where she is today.
This is Alejandra López, 23, and she is about to graduate from University of California, Berkeley.
López grew up in Huron, Calif., a predominately Latino town of 7,000 people about 3 hours north of Los Angeles. For López, the town she grew up in didn’t really leave her with much hope of obtaining higher education.
“The closest high school was a 45-minute bus ride, so Huron kids had to wake up extra early and get home later just to get a high school education. This was the most impactful experience that solidified my educational goals because in high school I became one of the Huron students in honors and AP classes,” López told mitú. “Going to these classes was hard because I was seen as one of the few “worthy” Huron kids to be in these top performing classes, when my other Huron peers were just as capable of excelling in these classes.”
Her parents are farmworkers and, as the photo below shows, she often goes to the fields to help her parents.
López admits that when she was younger, she was frustrated with the lack of educational opportunity and it translated into resentment towards her mother.
“We were always poor and I knew that my ticket out of all of this was education, so in a sense studying became my escape,” López explained to mitú about her longing for an education. “In those moments, I let anger and frustration out on my mom by telling her, “voy ir a la universidad porque no quiero ser mensa como tu toda mi vida,” [I’m going to university because I don’t want to be dumb like you all of my life] because I thought that she purposefully didn’t want to pursue an education. Later I learned that she only received a 3rd grade education in Mexico and had to stop because her family didn’t have the funds to continue sending her to school. Part of my lashing out was frustration and the other half was that I just didn’t really take the time to get to know my mom beyond the mom title until I started to look at higher education as an option.”
Yet, despite her own perceived block from higher education, López excelled and eventually made it to UC Berkeley. She does admit her parents always encouraged college even if her teenage self thought they didn’t.
“My parents always emphasized education. They would always tell me, “Tienes que estudiar para no trabajar en el fil como nosotros. [You have to study so you don’t work on the fields like we do.]” That always made sense to me, but it never felt comfortable because I didn’t see anything wrong with being a farmworker,” López told mitú. “I just knew that they wanted to see me in a career that didn’t require backbreaking work, so the idea of going to college was always there.”
For López, it was a no-brainer to include her parents in her graduation photos because this is their accomplishment too.
graduation picture because my family and i are graduating from UC Berkeley. some would say it’s the #1 public…
She credits her family and their unwavering support in love as giving her the inspiration and encouragement to make it through the process of applying, selecting, and ultimately attending college. Though she does think that her parents don’t understand the full impact of going to a school like UC Berkeley.
As for how she sees her mom, well, that has totally changed.
“I am so proud of my mami,” López exclaimed to mitú. “My mom struggled with letting me go to UC Berkeley because I am the baby of the family, but I think that by supporting my goals she gave herself room to figure out her role in life outside of mami. When I left, I bought her a book (I think it was ‘Los Cuatro Acuerdos’ by Don Miguel Ruiz) and after that, she was hooked. She LOVES to read now and it’s been so beautiful to see her grow. She has been right by my side learning with me as well as teaching me of the things she reads, and vice versa.”
“Gracias, sin su apoyo I wouldn’t have been able to graduate,” López told mitú about what she tells her family about graduating college.
She continued: “And thank you for teaching me the importance of familia and comunidad, which have guided me outside our home. Los amo!”