My parents had trouble understanding how independent my lifestyle had become and kept remarking on how much I had changed.
Studying abroad, moving across the country for internships, living alone far away from family after graduating — these were not choices my Latin American parents had seen many women make.
She was the first person from her to family to leave home to attend college, and her conservative extended family criticized her for leaving home before marriage.
“One night they sat me down, told me my conduct was shameful and was staining the reputation of the family,” she told me, “My family thought a woman leaving home had more to do with her promiscuity than her desire for an education.
Now you’re the Ivy League cousin who speaks a certain way, and does things others don’t understand.
It changes the dynamic in your family entirely.” A Latina friend of mine from Oakland felt this when she got accepted to the University of Southern California.
Here are a few: Looking back, I can’t discount the sacrifices my family made to get where we are today. Students tracked into this program in elementary school would usually end up in honors and Advanced Placement classes in high school — classes necessary for gaining admission into prestigious colleges. She also persuaded school administrators to test me for entrance into the program, and with her support, I eventually earned a spot. Weiland’s persistence ultimately influenced my acceptance into Brown University.
But I also can’t discount specific moments we had working in our favor. My parents, unfamiliar with our education system, didn’t understand any of this. No matter how hard I worked or what grades I received, without gifted placement I could never have reached the academic classes necessary for an Ivy League school. Weiland, my entire educational trajectory would have changed.
I thought: That moment encapsulated what I had always thought of the “American dream.” My parents had come to this country from Mexico and Ecuador more than 30 years before, seeking better opportunities for themselves.
They worked and saved for years to ensure my two brothers and I could receive a good education and a solid financial foundation as adults.