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

MARIA

My name is Maria, and I am a Hispanic woman raised in the United States with Mexican roots. My mother basically left me in charge of my siblings to take care of them while she worked. I missed a lot of years of school, so I can take care of my brothers. I started to work in a young age to financially help my kids.  I have four children three boys and one girl. I have gone through many obstacles in my life with education, as I was pulled in and out of school to take care of my brothers. I was not able to get a proper education like all the other children. I wanted to further my education, but with my base of education, it was weak which made it much harder for me. As an adult, I see that I worked hard to be in a place I am today.


Although I did not have many opportunities, I want my children to have a better life than what I have and not go through the things I had to experience. I implement education to my kids, so finding a job wouldn’t be so hard for them. I always looked for ways to become better to set an example to my kids. My main goal now is to help my children succeed even if it means giving my full attention to them because my children is what matters to me the most. My main goal now is to guide my children to what I had dreamed as a kid.


CHILDHOOD

I am the only girl in my family… There are five boys. We used to live in Tijuana, where three of my brothers were born. It was difficult living a life where I had to look after my siblings. Most of the day we were alone. The older siblings had to take care of the smaller siblings. The older siblings had all the responsibilities that a parent would have. Once the younger siblings were asleep, that was the only free time we would have.My mom worked two shifts—she was almost never home. The days she wouldn’t work she had to do things like go to the store, pay the bills and wash the clothes. So as a child we didn’t have spare time to go out and play or do things like any typical kid would do. Comparing my life to the other kids I was one of a few who had a large family. I then realized that they had a better life style than me. The other families had better economy. When I would talk to them they would go to the movies or go shopping and I couldn’t relate. As a young child in my mind I saw how having a small family was better. I am sad that my mom didn’t support me in my education because I would’ve had a lot more opportunities as a younger adolescent. Looking back, I see that I could have had chance to get a career. 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. In my education, 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 pay check to pay check, But I had dreams of becoming a successful person. As time passed we moved to California where my last brother was born.

TEENAGER

Since I was twelve years old I’ve been living in California. I consider myself one of the people who has seen how California has grown. 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. It was hard to understand everything because everything was in a different language I wasn’t familiar with. But I feel lucky as I look back how the school system worked in that era. We had real food in school, like food that was freshly cooked. They had classes that taught you how to do short careers like cooking, mechanics, and woodshops in high school. Now they don’t have any of those things. So when I was not in school I thought I was prepared to be an adult. My siblings did these classes, and they were able to get good jobs right after high school. They had classes that were helpful for our personal life.

ADULTHOOD

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, doing adult school and getting classes like typing. In that time computer was very strong and becoming a huge deal. 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 15 years. 

I then quit the job from being exhausted of working so much without stopping and having to be a mother of four kids. This job was very stressful because of the large number of apartments I had on my hands. I decided that I needed a break from all this stress I had. 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. I saw how dramatically technology has changed, but I was so busy working and focused with my children that when I was looking for a job I encounter obstacles that I did not expect. 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 located in the Inland Empire. And there comes again my frustration seeing the way of studying has changed and it was hard for me because my English is not that good. My capacity to study was not the same from when I was young. 

I noticed that school was different than I remember it. It was a long process to just get in the school and then I had to see if there was room in the classes I wanted. 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.