"I Had Dreams of Becoming a Successful Person":

Series of Closing Doors

November 2017

While living in Tijuana, Mexico Maria was tasked to look over her younger siblings before she even turned twelve years old. Maria ensured her siblings well-being while her mother worked two jobs to support the family, but unfortunately taking on a parenting role from a young age took a toll on Maria. Missing crucial developments in her early education as she was forced to drop in and out for years at a time to watch over her brothers. Maria is now a loving mother of four children, pushing them each to achieve things she could have only dreamed of as a child. 

“I am sad that my mom didn’t support me in my education because I would’ve had a lot more opportunities as a young adolescent. I had no clue what it was like in the outside world because I would just stay home and clean. I was ignorant and dumb. I would skip years of school and when I was put in a higher-grade level I would be lost. But talking to my peers I found out that although their parents work they still allowed their children to go to school. They supported them and for me I was advised to just get a husband. My mom’s ignorance kept me from doing the things I dreamed of. She didn't value education; she lived paycheck to paycheck, but I had dreams of becoming a successful person. 

"Since I was twelve years old I’ve been living in California. Growing up in a little city in Los Angeles County where most of the people were only white I feel that I was one of the few Hispanics in my school. It was hard to do good in school because everybody only spoke English, and there was almost no one that was bilingual. If I was lucky I would see a few Hispanic students in my class. I had so much to learn from the language, and the culture. 

"I dropped out from high school and I had my kids. When I tried to get a job as an adult I saw that having a high school diploma was necessary and life got harder for me, so I returned to school. I finally got my diploma and when I was looking for jobs I saw the classes I took wasn’t enough, so I took accounting based on a job I wanted to do. I started to work based off everything I learned from the classes I took. These classes helped me get a job as a manager of apartments for fifteen years. 

 

"I then quit the job from being exhausted of working so much without stopping and having to be a mother of four kids. I focused on my children and my family within these three years of my break. I wanted to go back to work and that’s when I realized how life has changed. Now they require more than before. Now they want young people to have a good representation in their company with fluent English and good with the modern technology. I realized that I did not fit in that criteria. I looked for a job for two years with no success. I mentally prepared myself to do the same as twenty years ago and I went to community college called Moreno Valley College located in the Inland Empire. 

"My capacity to study was not the same from when I was young. They make you study on your own and in class we would just do a chapter and the rest we had to read it ourselves. The style they taught was more reading than hands on activities in which I was used to how school was before. Now I am old and with not enough time to do all that work. Even going to school was embarrassing for me. My companions were a lot younger than me. And the people who knew me kept asking if I was planning to get a career with that age. Basically, making fun of me because I am too old to be getting a career, so I got out of school. I now come to a point in my life that I do not know what to do. I got out of management because it is very stressful and returning to that can bring health problems. At this age, I don’t feel I have that energy to work at that type of job so right now I am enjoying this time with my kids and supporting them in their goals.”

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Website created for Oral Histories of the Inland Empire (2018).