CATALINO TAPIA SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION
I grew up in a family in which no one graduated from high school, so my goal has always been to graduate from a four year university. My parents grew up very poor in Mexico. At 18 and 21 years old, when I was just 6 months old, they made the decision to come to the United States, in hopes of providing me with a better future.
Today, my family - which includes me, my younger sister, and my parents - lives in a small house with only one bedroom. Over time, it’s become more evident that living in the Bay Area is extremely expensive. A lot of my extended family are gardeners, and both of my parents were gardeners for many years. However, my mom has had a lot of health issues that prevented her from working, so she has been a homemaker since I was 10. Although neither of my parents have a college degree and they are undocumented, my dad works hard to provide for us. We were financially stable until 2009, when my mom had her first of many surgeries in which she lost her uterus at 25. Since then, my mom’s life has revolved around constant visits to the hospital and my dad has had to dedicate more time to work in order to pay bills.
As the oldest sibling in my family, my job is to take care of my sister, help out at home, and keep up with school work. Today, my mom is doing better, but she still has to deal with the seriousness of her health. About two years ago, my dad got another job in construction, which has always been his secret passion, and he has been making more money than he used to; however, the cost of everything else has also increased.
Up until this school year, I was in the free lunch program, but because my dad makes a little bit more than he used to, I unfortunately no longer qualify for it. I used to be guaranteed a fee waiver for any school event and didn’t have to worry about not being able to afford something. Now that college is in the picture, I know life will be even more stressful Financially. Therefore, I’m working hard to apply to as many scholarships as I can. It really is overwhelming and frustrating to think about not being able to attend the college you want because you don’t have the money; along with not being able to work and save up money because I am undocumented. My parents and I have worked so hard to get to where I am today, and it really pains me to think about not being able to afford a four-year university. Money is one of the biggest factors in deciding which college I will attend, and I’m doing my best to make it a more manageable factor, so I can get the education I deserve; this is why I am applying for the Bay Area Gardeners Scholarship. With my college degree, I plan to give back to my community. I’m interested in studying Social Work, Teacher’s Education, and Spanish. I’m not sure which path I’ll go down yet, but I know I would like a job as a teacher, social worker, or anything that allows me to be a mentor, advocate, and support system for others. I know that college is my opportunity to open doors for me, despite my status. I used to see the pressure as daunting, but now, I see it as a motivator.