Overcoming Obstacles

January 29, 2018

       In 1989 my family immigrated to the United States of America. I was five years old. My parents, siblings, and I were born in a small rural community in northern Chihuahua, Mexico. As a child, I remember my mother’s daily struggles to survive in poverty. I knew the struggle was real. Nonetheless, the memories of my childhood years in Mexico are good ones. I spent most of my time outdoors exploring at the foot of the sierras, in the valleys, by the river, and in open fields. I’d chase ducks, chickens, ride sheep, climb the apple orchard trees, and go on many treks up and down the dirt road that led to my grandmother’s house. I cherish those memories; a five-year-old adventurer and her best buddy, Dollar, a white and brown scruffy dog that never left her side.

       I knew my mother had plans to cross the border; it was just a matter of saving up the money for the journey north. I often heard her and Grandma whisper about it at night when we were all tucked in bed. As I drifted into deep slumbers I would dream of life in “el otro lado.” In the winter of 1989 we were ready to make the anticipated trip. My mother packed a single briefcase, placed all her important documents in her purse and off we went. I sat in the middle of an old single-cab pickup, and remember waving back at my grandmother. My buddy Dollar ran after the pickup as fast as he could, soon he was left behind in a cloud of chalky dust.

       We came to the United States to work, and to work hard. We came to this country to pursue an education and a college degree. Were there obstacles along the way? To be frank, there were many! But our desire to overcome those obstacles surpassed the challenges. There is beauty in coming from a background like mine. I never really thought about socioeconomic status as an obstacle. I have learned that resilience, and the inner drive to achieve goals is what truly matters.  I knew I was undocumented, which did not stop my dreams of going to college. I knew I did not have a driver’s license, that did not impede me from getting to class on time. I knew I did not have the money to pay for my education, but I had my strong work ethic and my grades were excellent. It was a matter of stepping into the unknown with a goal in mind and the determination to get there.

       I love to learn, who doesn’t! I have been blessed with the oppotunity to complete two bachelor’s degrees, complete a master’s program and this summer I will complete my second Masters in Clinical Mental Health. I share this with a humble spirit, not to boast, but to encourage you to continue chasing your dreams, to conquer the difficulties. In the end, overcoming obstacles is what makes your accomplishments worthwhile. Put on a good fight.

       María D. Santos