The Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute Blog
Blog by Alondra H. (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Becari@ 2017)
“Strength doesn't come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t”- Anonymous
This quote has inspired me since I became aware of its meaning; it has enabled me to get through what I thought was impossible. When you are not born in this country, but it is all you know, the road to success can be extremely difficult. When I first arrived at New York City it was a magical experience. I remember when the car approached the Brooklyn Bridge and I saw all the lights! I clearly remember the sparkling lights and the snow. It was almost as if I was in a story book. Although I was excited, I was also a very scared six-year-old. We had been driving cross country for more than a week and I was not sure what to expect. All I knew was what my parents told me, “Alondra, we are going to a better place…”
The first month in New York City was by all means difficult. I was a foreigner in a strange and scary city and I really did not know what to expect. Everything was different, but one thing was the same… I had to go to school. My parents always told me that education was freedom and that I was going to have a great education in the USA. As expected, my mother enrolled me in elementary school. I remember the first day of classes as if it was yesterday. I cried and begged my mother to not leave me. I looked so different, I had long black braids and everyone seemed to be blond. I was petrified! As my mother left, I could not find comfort, I cried and cried, and luckily my teacher calmed me down and introduced me to the class. Everyone’s eyes and attention were directed at me, I barely blurted out my name and just observed everyone. The first week of school was one of the toughest times in my life, not only did I feel uncomfortable, but I did not understand a word anyone said. This was particularly difficult because I wanted to make friends but could not interact with any of them as I did not speak English. Every morning I would beg my mother to take me out of school and she just told me that it was going to get better.
As fate has its path, I started taking private English lessons; this changed my life. My teacher was amazing, not only did he teach me how to speak and write in English, but he ignited a passion in me to never let anything hold me back. Once I was fluent in English I saw the city through a whole new perspective, I was no longer the scared six-year-old who had arrived to a big scary city. I had this new energy that is indescribable I could now socialize in school and make friends, I no longer cried to go to school. Learning became my passion and my strength.
Thanks to CUNY Becas I am able to continue pursuing my college career in getting an undergraduate degree in global history. CUNY Becas has allowed me to share my struggles and stories of success with students who are very much like me and who can personally understand and connect with one another. Never in my life have i had the emotional support and security that CUNY Becas has offered me in the past few months. They have made me feel so proud of being a Dreamer something that up until a few months ago I was ashamed and scared to tell the world. CUNY Becas is not just a scholarship that helps me pay for college but rather a family unit that will always be a part of me.
Blog by Belinda B. (LaGuardia Community College, Becari@ 2017)
My name is Belinda and I am now 24 years old. I am from Puebla but have grown up and lived in Queens, NY pretty much all of my life. Living on my own since I was 18 years old, thought at times difficult, has proven to be a very rewarding experience. I had to become independent at a young age and I’ve come to appreciate that experience for all that it’s been worth. I am the oldest of six siblings with a constant desire to grow and learn from my mistakes so that they don't have to hit all the speed bumps I’ve come across. All I can really say in full honesty is that I’m still trying to figure out who I am. Existing is complex, society and life are complex and at times I don't know what I’m doing or where exactly I’m going. As a CUNY Becas recipient, as a second-generation immigrant, as somebody living on this side of the world and with access to education, as somebody with more opportunities than past generations, the pressure to be “successful”, “be somebody”, and bring the raza forward is never ending. Existing for a cause beyond my individual self is something that I’m still learning to balance with the necessary self-care and love that is needed to stay sane in this world. The past year has been an interesting one. I have noticed a shift in my aspirations and what I regard as vital in life. It makes me very happy to say that I am a second year Becari@ and that due to the generosity of this scholarship program I am one semester away from completing an Associates program in Commercial Photography.
The past year has seen me grow and change and face myself in ways I have always shied away from. My interests have broadened as well as my perceptions of my individual self and as a member of a larger community. I aspire to make photography my medium with which I give certain causes, people and myself a voice. I’m still honing my artistic abilities and trying to focus on my personal endeavors and see how they fit in the grand scheme of making a better life for myself and my people. Now more than ever I’m a strong believer in the power of education, the power of a book and of spoken word. I hope for a day where ignorance of the power struggles in the world isn't our peoples biggest enemy, for a day when our peoples’ worth will be beyond being determined by how much of their life they have had to sacrifice to make ends meet, a day when philosophizing about our social and economic stance won’t be beyond the capacity of the average person because information will be shared and revered as a means to break stagnant cycles. Then again these are all dreams, all bits of what I hope to bring to fruition in this world. I do not know if a lifetime will be enough.
Blog by Brenda H. C. (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Becari@ 2017)
My name is Brenda Hernandez and I am a senior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where I am pursuing my bachelor’s in political science. I have always been interested to learn about how government, culture, laws, and history has an impact on politics, policies, economics, and most importantly, individuals. My ultimate goal is to become an attorney that advocates for the rights of the Mexican community, in addition to the Hispanic community.
I am the oldest of three and I am a first-generation college student. My parents have always reminded me the importance of having an education. They always told me education is something that no one will be able to take away from me. My parents and family have always supported me in every step of my academic journey, and without their their love and support, I will not be where I am today.CUNY BECAS is like my second family. Since 2015, I have been blessed with getting to know a wonderful group of individuals that I have not only shared moments with but learned from. SHOUT OUT TO MY BEST FRIEND JULIA RAMIREZ who is another Bacardi@, love you!! In truth, this program has really helped me grow academically and professionally, and I cannot thank them enough for all the opportunities it has provided me.
Blog by Carlos M. (Brooklyn College, Becari@ 2017)
August has been exciting for most as the solar eclipse was seen throughout the United States. This distraction from the real bigotry has enabled people in Virginia to be clear of any wrongdoing. In the past few weeks, the media has talked about the irreversible comments by the President. He has supported the hateful speech of neo-Nazis and KKK members. He denies their support, and this has led an unsafe space for many communities, including the immigrant community.I am not scared of this environment because I lived in a country where racist comments are part of common life. I continue to question if I came to the United States to suffer these kinds of injustices. I am a persistent person and will not be afraid to speak my mind. I want to make this country better, but it must start with everyone else respecting each other. I want my little brother to grow up in a safe space where he can be anyone he wants to be. He is young and does not know of these kinds of prejudices, but he understands that he is treated differently because of his skin color. I have of many people before me, but it doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what people before did for me, and what I will do for people in the future.
Blog by Cristian S. H. (Lehman College, Becari@ 2017)
"Exploring My Mexican Culture through Dancing"
When human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel. However, those same traumatic experiences can be seen as a powerful propeller to move forward instead of moving backwards or remain inside of a shell. Approximately 6 years ago I was sitting under some shrubberies on a hill surrounded by the darkness of Nogales Sonora, hiding from the border patrol along with my uncle David and other immigrants heading north in search of the American Dream. After several failed attempts, our two-day journey became a seven-day journey of suffering; we faced cold winds, sweltering heat, hunger, thirst, and had some near-death experiences. Migrating to the United States in 2010 was one of the most difficult obstacles I had to overcome. I migrated in order to get a career, and not to be a dishwasher or a delivery boy. Upon my arrival, I enrolled in high school and was placed in the same grade as the one I had already completed in Puebla, Mexico. I was not happy but after what I had lived and suffered while crossing la garita (toll booth) at the Nogales Sonora port of entry, the place where immigrants like myself crossed the border crawling on rough stones with our bleeding knees and hands, I accepted the opportunity.
I was determined to complete High School and attend College. I wanted to prove that Mexicans are not only good for physical labor but are also intellectually capable of attaining higher education degrees. Unlike some undocumented youth of my age, I knew from the beginning that I was undocumented and the possibilities of going to college would be almost null. However, this was no reason for me to give up on my studies and abandon my ambition to attend College.
Three years passed after I enrolled to high school and I was in my senior year, the year that I was supposed to enroll to College. I was starting to feel as if this was where my educational path was going to end; all my efforts in school while working part-time in construction seemed to be worthless after all. Just like the Spanish saying “como caido del cielo,” I found out about the CUNY-Becas scholarship program and I immediately started my application process. I had only a few days left before the deadline. When I sent my application, I received a notification that all my documents had been received and that I would be notify about anything regarding my application. The waiting seemed suffocating, checking my email every single day until I was finally notified that I had been chosen to be a Becari@.
It has been almost four years since that day. It has been four consecutive years that I have been chosen as a Becari@ which is a powerful proof to the saying that “hope is the last to die”. As of right now, I’m about to start with my last semester to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in computer science, a career feared by many and conquered by few. My name is Edgar Morales and I won’t let my traumas take over me, on the contrary, I’ll use them to go beyond and make my way for something better.
Blog Dulce C. H. (Brooklyn College, Becari@ 2016, 2017)
My name is Dulce S. Cebada Hernandez, I am from a place where people “lucha" to have a better future no matter what obstacles they face. I am from Mexico, and I am blessed to have two nations in my heart. I love my country Mexico, where I grow up, with my grandparents, but I also love America where I am able to expand my horizons.
If such a great feeling that I have all the support to complete my education. I am very blessed to be part of CUNY Becas. I have no words to express how important it has been for me to be award by CUNY Becas. Thanks to the CUNY Becas, I believe there are people out there who are willing to help me regardless of my immigration status, nationality, they opened their door to me. They believe in my dreams, aspirations, and shine my hopes again. I will always be grateful for giving me this opportunity. Also thanks to all of these amazing people in the The Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute
Francisco A. R. (Lehman College, Becari@ 2016, 2017)
Life plays out in interesting ways, a thought that is well known to many but very few take much thinking into if not until a change in one’s life occurs. Such is the case with myself. I
never would I ever imagined to be where I am today, a few semesters from graduating college. As a first-generation college student being near the end of this chapter of my academic career is surreal.
The fact that I’m very close to reaching my goal of graduating despite the hurtles that life put me through is a statement of how large the kindness, generosity and empowerment I have received from others, individuals and groups alike. This includes the Becari@s that I have got to know personally over the two honorable years of being a Becas recipient. Their stories made me understand that I’m not a navigator in a desolate desert but a warrior marching forward with many like myself. Many that have also sought out ways of not letting their circumstances stop them from continuing their education.
The many figures I have met because of the Becas program have also made their mark in my life. All of the teaching of these figures evoked a sense of deeper awareness of myself as an individual and member of a community.
The growth I have been able to notice within myself leaves me in awe at moments because I reflect on the person I was two years ago, I exponentially changed interpersonally. This program without a doubt is, for me, a privilege to be a part for various reasons. It’s without a doubt a life changer and I hope that the program can expand to help more of those that want to continue studying but face life’s interesting unfolding’s.
Gloria E. T. (LaGuardia Community College, Becari@ 2017)
My name is Gloria and I am from Puebla, Mexico. I am an undergraduate student at LaGuardia Community College. I am one of three daughters raised by a single parent in Mexico. I completed grades 1 through 9 and I stopped going to school at the age of 16 to go to work and help my family financially. My sister and I came to the United States in 2004. It was a bit of a challenge to live in a different environment with a different language and culture. The first thing that I wanted to do was learn English. I enrolled in ESL and computer classes. Then I volunteered for two and a half years at The Lighthouse Guild for the Blind as a teacher’s assistant. My experience working with children with disabilities was amazing and something that I will never forget. Continuing with my education I attended GED classes and after a year I earned my GED Diploma.
I have been enjoying each moment pursuing my career, meeting great people along the path that will lead me to my goal. My major is Spanish/English translation. I would like to work in the special education system to support families of children with special needs. As a mother, I am convinced that if parents get the help and the proper information they need, they can better support their children, which can make a big difference in the lives of these children. I want to improve the quality of life for these families and help them to feel that they are supported.
From the moment, I found CUNY Becas, I noticed that it is not only a scholarship program but also a close-knit community as well. It offered a network of people that I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with. We help each other. The best part of the program is that it specifically works with the Mexican community. To help my community is an important part of my goal and in my opinion, to help each other means to grow as a human being.
I believe in my community
I believe in my family
I believe que donde hay sueños hay esperanza
I believe que juntos podemos
I believe that CUNY Becas is a family
I believe that my Mexican culture is the best!
Marlon A. (Lehman College, Becari@ 2017)
I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and quite like my respective counterparts, I too have endured many trials and tribulations as an undocumented student. Nevertheless, as society has witnessed the undocumented community does not falter in perilous times, instead, we seek strength in each other and find creative ways to survive. Currently, I am a senior in the Social Work program at Lehman College — expecting to graduate in May 2018. During the course of my postsecondary educational journey, I have been given the opportunity to work with the reintegration population. I was a Case Manager that helped meet the needs of individuals whom were in the process of re-entry into their respective communities after being involved in the criminal justice system. It is during this capacity that I realized many of the programs that were targeted to help lower the recidivism rate were in fact only benefiting the English-speaking community. I took it upon myself to help fix this issue and help the Spanish speaking population that needed these services. Fortunately, the agency that I worked for was very receptive of the cultural and language barriers hindering the Spanish speaking population and in a matter of months I began running the Spanish speaking programs. It is experiences such as these that have given me the courage to continue expanding my horizons and furthering my higher educational attainments. I want to be an efficient and effective helping professional so that I may continue to be a catalyst for social change and to bring about social justice. Therefore, I am planning on completing my graduate degree and obtain an MSW so that I may be exposed to new modalities of practice in order to help underserved immigrant communities.
Jazmin P. (Brooklyn College, Becari@ 2016, 2017)
“Échale ganas, hija,” “acaba tus estudios, para que no pases lo que yo pase.” Those words are stuck in my head, it reminds me of my goal. My parents have been my motivation, the motivation to not give up and the importance of getting an education. Right after graduating from high school, I enrolled in a community college. With enthusiasm and excitement, I knew that it would be challenging. Although I was content I also found myself conflicted because I did not know how I would afford college, nevertheless I did not want to put a burden on my parents. I knew they were happy to see me accomplish something that they couldn’t but they could not keep supporting me financially. For my first 2 years of college, I found myself working full time during the day and taking classes in the nighttime. I struggled and there were times I felt like giving up, it was not until my last semester that I that I applied to CUNY BECAS and I received it. Thanks to CUNY BECAS; I was able to graduate with an Associate's degree from Borough of Manhattan Community College and transfer to a senior college; to pursue a bachelor's degree. Since I became a Becari@, many doors have opened for me, I was able to meet and connect with other people who share similar situations as me.
Also, as part of being a scholarship recipient, I was able to get a mentor who could guide me professionally and academically. As a first-generation college student, I found myself on my own. Since I received a mentor, I heard their experiences and is something that helped me to better my persona and prevent mistakes that they once experienced. In the last 3 years of my college career, I cannot recall how many times I struggled by myself, without the idea what to do, but now that I have someone who can provide me with guidance, I can better make decisions for myself and my future. Finally, I can breathe and focus on my classes and be more active in my community. Although I cannot replay the amount of sacrifice that my parents have made for me and my siblings, and the amount of support from my community, I hope to someday give back to them as much as I can.
Jenifer G. (Hunter College, Becari@ 2017)
I arrived in the U.S concealed in darkness, unbeknownst to me this foreshadowed the next decade of my life living in the shadows. I was 4 years old, unaware that my presence—and my parents’ yearning for a better life for me—constituted a crime.
My name is Jenifer Guzman a junior at Hunter College double majoring in psychology and political science. Over the past 17 years that I have lived in the U.S., I have experienced an inner battle in trying to define who I am: American or Mexican. I’ve come to determine that I am both. The Jaime Lucero Institute of Mexican Studies helped me rediscover my roots during a winter study abroad program to Mexico City. This was possible through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which allowed me to apply for advance parole for educational reasons. At El Colegio de México (a prestigious Mexican university) I sat through a three-day conference about migration between the United States and Mexico with other fellow Dreamers. I became aware of some of the deeper issues that surround migration and I felt supported by my community; The Jaime Lucero Institute of Mexican Studies, CUNY, and my Mexican community both in the United States and in Mexico.
When I received my acceptance to CUNY Becas, I was overjoyed. This scholarship allows me to unleash my potential as an advocate for the Mexican community. I’ve spent a large part of my life suppressing who I am and I refuse to retreat back into a bubble trying to aspire to be what society wants me to be. It also allows me to keep ties with my Mexican roots being able to learn from peers and mentors. I am currently a Junior at Hunter College double majoring in psychology and political science. When my younger brother was diagnosed with ADHD, I decided to pursue training in psychology and gather the clinical tools needed to help him and other children like him. I’ve also majored in political science as I have also developed a deep devotion to equality and justice.
One fear that I have is that by the time DACA is phased out, I will have graduated with a double major in psychology and political science. Without any other government plan in place, this leaves me unable to utilize my degree. Without a valid work permit, I will not be able to help children like my brother who requires speech and occupational therapy services. And yet, I am hopeful in the voice of my community to make a change. Despite the uncertainty, my knowledge cannot be taken away.
Jessenia G. (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Becari@ 2016,2017) "Las dos caras de la frontera lloraban."
Five years ago, I was able to cross over, more like the border crossed me, limited me. Regardless of the physical and mental instability I was left with, as a result of the immigration of my parents, when I arrived here the environment wasn’t as welcoming.
From the beginning, I learned that I had to proudly carry the meaning of being “undocumented” wherever I go. Senior year came along and with it the little girl full of dreams, who thought if she excels in school she would be able to go to places regardless of her immigration status. However, with each attempt she was sent back, after each door she knocked on would slam at her face. Elections came along and with it my activism grew, I wanted to do anything within my ability to fight for our rights and my community. But I came across with the narrative of the “DACAmented” students. Other undocumented young people whose demand against Trump administration claims to not be send back to their home countries because this is the only home they know. Once again, I questioned where I actually belong and needed to be, with my parents in a foreign country or without them but at home. At times I ask myself where is home anyways?
I don’t call myself a “dreamer” because I don't want to criminalize my community but also because “dreamers” call this country their home, excluding those of us who recently arrived, los que no somos ni de aqui ni de alla.
However, the Jaime Lucero Mexican Institute not only openly welcomed me without looking at my immigration status but also my nationality. They were the first ones who saw me more than just an applicant but a student with big dreams, vision, potential and provided me with wings to keep flying. This is my second year to have the honor to be granted with CUNY Becas. I am and will always be truly grateful for the opportunity. It is a place where I not only find inspiration but resistance despite any external circumstances. It is our fights and our entusiasmo to keep fighting and making our families and ancestors proud that makes this program more than a financial aid, which helps tremendously. But when we are together we become one and when we leave the room, we hope to take our knowledge and inspire others, to cheer them up when they thought they can’t keep going, to create more spaces like this one, y luchar por mantener la esperanza viva.
Laura V. P. (City College of New York, Becari@ 2015, 2017) "Dear Historians"
It comes down to three words, three very important words, “We wanted more.” We wanted more from life, for our family, and for our community. We sought a place to call home and to realize our potential. Those three words are not enough to encompass the story of each individual who is a part of our becario family or of every immigrant that steps foot on American soil, but it’s an honest start to the age-old questions, why did you leave everything and everyone behind, why did you come here, and why do you stay here despite the political turmoil that surrounds people from your country?
For the reader’s sake, I’ll do my best to share some of my more enlightening moments in recent years, moments that have helped shape who I am and who I will become in the future.
Around 4 or 5 years ago I had my first visit to the Tenement museum, it was around that same time when I was taking U.S History in high school. Backtrack those four years or so and I’ll explain how I pieced together that history repeats itself.
As we moved through the portion of history where Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and Irish immigrants were once at the bottom of the immigration food chain I couldn’t help but compare my life to that of the immigrants I learned about in class and at the Tenement museum. It was easy to see how not much had changed in the way Americans respond to incoming immigrants, for the group that is deemed undesirable in this country the laws work against them, the labor conditions are among the worst, and the journey to higher education is filled with barriers. One must overcome numerous hurdles to pave a path for the immigration group in question to move forward. I saw my life reflected in those of the immigrants who lived in the tenements, I saw the hopes and wishes of my parents and my own reflected in the immigrant stories told in class and at the museum. I also saw a future where our group moved forward and achieved more than was previously thought possible, a future where the Mexican community is embraced rather than frowned upon, and a time in which students from our community don’t have to struggle as much to pursue the careers they want.
The CUNY Becas program holds a special place in my heart, since I first became a becaria back in 2015 I’ve had many wonderful people join my life and help me along the way. I was one of a select group chosen to help guide future becarios on their college journey and to represent how much one’s dreams can drive members of our community to move forward. I am grateful for what I have been granted, and give thanks for my family, past teachers, mentors, friends, and authors that guided my childhood, adolescence and now adulthood.
Dear Historians, my parting message is a simple plea, listen to our stories, keep an open mind, and don’t distort history. We’re not the bad guys, we’re proud people who seek a better future and persevere despite having limited means. We’re students, we’re workers, parents, and much more, dear historians, please remember, “We wanted more.”
A Student, a Dreamer, and a Mexican Immigrant as well - Laura Velazquez Perea
City College of New York Student
Lissete G. E. (Borough of Manhattan Community College, Becaria@ 2017)
I was born and raised in State of Mexico, Netzahualcoyotl City. My name is Lissete. By the age of four my parents took a strong decision that would make our family separated. I admire my father over all the things, he dedicates over 10 years of hard work in the United States to make his family stable in Mexico. On August 1st, 2013, I met my father once again; There was no longer a border that could separate my family. However, being an undocumented student in New York City, it limits hopes to follow a personal legend in the making. Many undocumented students face the lack of support to make it to college. I was one of those undocumented students that could not make it to college. Thanks to CUNY-Becas scholarship, it allows me to follow my personal legend. I am currently a college student at Borough of Manhattan Community College; following a Computer Science major. As a Becaria completing an internship at Masa-Ed Mex organization allows me to support and bring services to Mexican families in the Bronx. The CUNY-Becas scholarship gives me the tools to help my Mexican community and to follow my personal legend.
Mabel A. (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Becari@ 2017)
For me, CUNY Becas means transformation. After two years, it has changed me into a better human being, a better woman, a woke individual, and a never-ending learner. From internships, to mentorships, and strong friendships, CUNY Becas works in a way that every part of itself, unfolds to different levels of self-improvement. For me, it transformed my insecurities, fears and social disadvantages into valuable lessons and incredible life opportunities. Before I received the scholarship, college was something I yearned to have yet I could not afford. I am a Hispanic girl from a low income, single-parent household; it was almost impossible for me to get a job and my mom was the only one working at the time. Throughout these two past years, I have been able to collect endless memories and experiences. I reconnected with myself and my roots. As a second-year scholarship recipient, I believe that my first internship has been what has shaped me the most. I was an intern at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. Every single experience I went through at the institute challenged me in every sense of the word. I particularly remember being an insecure speaker and writer, but my supervisor not only reassured me of my power but also constantly helped me to build confidence through making me write different writing pieces. She taught me that practice makes perfect. Thanks to all of the fun endeavors I faced, I learned that in order to reach my full potential I must step out of my comfort zone, and that I must take risks always believing in my strengths yet improving my weaknesses. Thanks to the inspiring, hardworking, smart women, and men, I was surrounded by, I was able to grow and accept myself as a capable woman who could do anything she set her mind to. Everywhere I go, I carry those valuable lessons with me. All these will not go in vain, as I was once given a chance, I will make sure my dreams transform others’ dreams into a reality.
Mori S. (Medgar Evers College, Becari@ 2017)
Often times as a student you consider what is your purpose. Why is it that I’m here existing as a student and an individual on a whole? After considering your purpose your pace also becomes a troubling thought in your mind. Should I be going faster in order to complete with everyone else even though my dynamics are different? These two poems below touch on some of these issues.
We often ask what is my purpose here?
But instead we should be more specific and ask
by doing what in this life would I feel fulfilled?
Is that picture-perfect career going to feel fulfilling?
Or will one just feel trapped on a deserted island,
searching for their soul’s desire.
In this life, we are pilgrims on a journey,
Destined to various different paths but the common thread which
Runs in most of us is hard work and dedication.
Do you want to be a wandering sheep looking for his shepherd?
Or would you like to be basking in the amazing glory of a happy and fulfilled life?
The choice is yours, either choose to find fulfillment
Or you will dwell in a derailed soul which was once destined for greatness.
Remember we become who we want to be, whether it’s to settle with others ideals
For us or to live up to our full potential and harness the,
Greatness that is within us.
Leaving others to ponder, the grounds upon which you remain happy and ecstatically driven.
Race of Life
In this race called life there are some who
Enter in the fast lane,
Others enter in the not so fast lane
And some in the slow lane.
But guess what at the end of it all
Through much perseverance
Everyone in the race ends up at the finish line
At some point.
In life it’s not how you start it’s that power struggle,
Triumph against distractions and fireworks finish that counts
Remember that fireworks finish doesn’t come easy
Its gonna take a whole bag of effort,
A folder of good will and a certified
Goal driven individual.
Nayelly C. (Lehman College, Becari@ 2016, 2017)
My name is Nayelly , I am a junior at Lehman College, majoring in Health Service Administration with a minor in Public Health. CUNY Becas has given me an opportunity to continue my education, but this Becas was more than just that. When you receive the email saying “Congratulations, you have been awarded with the scholarship” no one tells you that along with that you will be gaining a support system as well as a second family, and that is what this beca has given me. I was able to experience new opportunities such as interning at the Mexican consulate and at Lehman college, at the Adult learning center. Throughout my internship I have gained an abundance of new skills that will benefit me now and in the future. I was able to connect to my Mexican community and give back to them by tutoring kids in math and science. Helping these kids meant so much to me, I was able to become a mentor to them and to be someone they looked up to. One of the things I would tell them daily is that don’t let obstacles ruin your dreams, keep going, do not give up, because one day it will all be worth it. Being a part of the scholarship has given me a broader mindset, the chance to meet new people, obtain opportunities, gain a family who in no time became my support system, and a chance to further my education. I will forever be grateful in receiving this beca!
Raul M. (College of Staten Island, Becari@ 2016, 2017)
I am an undergraduate student at the College of Staten Island; it’s my second year, and I am majoring in Finance and Music. I am from Oaxaca, Mexico; I grew up in an indigenous, Mixtec village. At the age of 9, my siblings and I emigrated to the United States seeking a better future and opportunities. When arriving in this country, I encountered many obstacles: culture shock, language barriers, financial problems, and the lack of a support structure. However, I committed to maintaining a good GPA in school, so I could go to college. At the end of my senior year of high school, I had the grades, but not the money, to go to college.
The CUNY Becas scholarship has allowed me to pursue my education. The institute has helped me develop new skills, capabilities, experiences, and transferable knowledge to my own career development. Because of the CUNY Becas, I have been interning with a nonprofit organization called Make Road New York, where I help the immigrant community with their English and computer skills development. I am now more involved in my community, trying to identify the problems to assist better. I believe educating our community is an essential tool for any society to prosper. I am the first person in my family attending college, I hope to inspire my younger brother to pursue his dreams as well.
Saira C. G. (Hunter College, Becari@ 2017)
Financing college was incredibly difficult for me. As my fellow Becari@s would understand, tuition isn’t the only thing we have to worry about: there are textbooks, transportation, and all other issues that come with being a working student. CUNY BECAS did not only provide relief from the financial burden of college but also allowed me to pursue my second major. It gave me the opportunity to meet my mentor, who not only served as a guide and role model but also helped me build self-confidence. I was lucky enough to be paired with a mentor who shares both my major and career goal, making our meetings that much more meaningful.The best part about the program was the retreat to Frost Valley, as it was there that I got to meet all the Becari@s and make friends that I know will last a lifetime. I feel that this scholarship program stands out from the rest, as it strives to create a tight-knit community. I am so grateful to have been surrounded by such amazing, dedicated people who shared my cultural background, my values, and aspirations
Sebastian V. (Hunter College, 2017)
My name is Sebastian Villegas and I was born In Puebla, Mexico. With the support and loving care of my mom, I was able to arrive to the United States at 9 months old. She is the reason why I am in this country and I am eternally gratefully. I currently attend Hunter College and pursuing psychology as a major.
When I was volunteering at Bellevue, as a research assistant, I learned how it is imperative to have bilingual doctors and nurses. In the internship, I recruited parents who had referrals after being in the ER. The parents who were only Spanish speakers had translators, however, some still missed their appointments regardless of the extra support that were given to them. There was a high percentage of Latino parents that did not follow up their children’s referral. This can be detrimental for the child’s health because they can potentially relapse. There may be several factors as to why Latino parents missed their children’s referral appointments; however, having physicians and nurses who speaks the language and understands the community, are able to efficiently communicate what are the risks, the steps the parents should do after being discharged, etc to the parent. This can decrease parents missing their child’s appointments and other health problems.
Through the internships I have participated and my own life experience, I have decided that I would like to be an advocate and hopefully a bridge for immigrant families like my own to have access to health care. It is unfortunate that many undocumented immigrants are not able to obtain healthcare. There are support systems in place that are not known to the community. I believe that our community needs to know about this support system that are in place.
Thanks to the support of CUNY Becas, I have been able to realize how I can support my own community at the same time attend college. I am a step closer to graduating and achieving my goals.
Valeria M. (City College of New York, Becari@ 2017)
Being part of the CUNY BECAS 2017-2018 cohort has being a great honor. I’m grateful to the Jaime Lucero Institute for granting me this opportunity by believing in me and my capabilities to become a great community leader. Beyond the financial aspect, this scholarship program has provided me with a wholesome variety of support. I have been able to develop my professional skills by working at a non-profit that not only has allowed me to grow my teaching skills and but has also helped me connect even more with my Mexican immigrant community and inspire me to keep advocating for our rights. It has also provided me with a dedicated mentor that has been a great emotional support that has been present in various difficult times I’ve experienced this past year. CUNY BECAS has signified so much; it has helped me develop professionally, it has expanded my skills as a leader and community organizer, but most importantly, it has given me the last piece I needed to feel complete in this country, a caring family.