Talk about motivation. That is what Guadalupe Ayala-Arroyo sees in farm work, motivation for achieving a brighter future. “When I go home, I think to myself: See this is why you stay up late and do good on your exams. So you don’t end up here,” she says. “That’s what I tell myself when I’m working there.”
Ayala-Arroyo didn’t always have a permanent home. She and her family would move every two or three months, switching schools each time, to follow the harvest up and down central California. This pattern lasted until she was in middle school. At that point, her parents decided to stay put working the brutally hot fields of Coachella Valley.
Since Ayala-Arroyo was 16, she’s been helping her parents pick grapes and strawberries. She’s now 20. During summer breaks, the third-year psychology major at Cal State University Long Beach usually works from sun up to sun down — about 10 to 12 hours a day.
Thanks to the College Assistance Migrant Program [CAMP], Ayala-Arroyo has been able to pursue her degree at CSULB. CAMP provides families like Guadalupe’s with help navigating the university system and its bureaucracy. CAMP’s support has been invaluable, especially since Guadalupe’s parents lack a formal education — her father doesn’t know how to read or write and her mother dropped out in middle school. What once scared them about letting her go to college is a distant memory.
“I was very afraid of you going to college because I had no idea what you were up against. But I know you were intelligent and that you could overcome anything,” her mom confessed in a recent video profile produced by CSULB. “The conferences and workshops helped me let go. They encouraged me to let you fly on your own.”
Watch one of the segments from Guadalupe’s story below:
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