Jaime Hernandez, Class of 2019
I’m the son of two hard-working immigrants.
We crossed the border when I was just seven years old. I can still feel the humidity running down my face and the sweat evaporating as my lips screamed for water. However, we were sharing a gallon of water between six people (it didn’t last very long). If my parents had been scared to cross a desert, I wouldn’t be here. I thank them for choosing to fight. We reached California after walking 400 miles.
I was then raised in a low-income household in a whole new country. Everything was going good in elementary school, middle school, but then high school came. I was met with a hard impact on my education because of the people I surrounded myself with. For a whole year, I received report cards that resembled a practice letter worksheet from kindergarten and the letter of the week was “F”.
So, my parents hauled me to Washington State where they believed I would get my act together. In spite of seeing that their child was failing in his education, my parents could have gotten scared but instead, they fought. I did, in fact, get my act together thanks to them but especially because I met the love of my life in high school who I would later marry. She was a big reason that I graduated from high school. Even if I graduated a year later because I had missed an entire year because of my decisions in California. However, as they say, better late than never.
Then came the hard part, I graduated high school with a 1.6 GPA. I thought I was stupid, to put it bluntly, and I could only work in the fields or work with my hands. One day when I was thinning an apple tree, I saw my wife who was working across from me and decided it was time for me to fight. I wanted to give my wife and myself a better future. I wanted her to be proud to say I was her husband. So, I quit and decided to try something new.
I applied at Head Start through Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of Washington to receive work experience. At first, I thought I was too dumb to become a teacher, but slowly I obtained more confidence. I started off in the Head Start kitchen, then I became a floater and months later an assistant teacher. All in six months because I fought and worked hard to obtain something bigger. Later I did something even crazier. I decided to go back to school.
I thought college was only for smart people who received all A’s in high school. However, Big Bend Community College gave me a second chance to redeem myself. I also thought only rich people went to college. I was wrong again. Big Bend helped me with financial aid through the Early Achievers Grant. Throughout all of my classes, I learned how to become a better teacher and person as well. The teachers and advisor were always attentive and ready to help. I used every resource I had: the library, writing center, and the Student Success Center. Even as a first-generation college-student I managed my way around.
It all paid off the day I received my diploma and saw that I had made my wife and my hard-working parents who came here with nothing and gave me everything, very proud. Big Bend helped me do that, but most importantly it gave me a second chance. I went from a 1.6 GPA to a 3.7 GPA student and made multiple Vice President and President’s list for my outstanding quarter grades. Now my plan is to keep doing new things despite my fear and to fight.
My new goal is to obtain my Ph.D. in Psychology specializing in children through Grand Canyon University. Yes, the kid who thought he was stupid will now go to the university and mark my words, I will work hard to obtain my Ph.D.
My advice — don’t let your fears control your life! Don’t choose “flight” and run from college; try new things! FIGHT for what you want! Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land on the stars. If a low-income immigrant who came out of the fields, who barely graduated high school, and was a first-generation graduate can do it, so can YOU!!