Monday, March 10, 2014

A Chance to Live the American Dream by Andy De Jesus

My stepdaughter Andy is applying to colleges now.  I can hardly believe that she is already a senior in high school and about to turn 18.  When I think of her, the shy, polite, and thoughtful grade school girl peers back at me, but when I look again, I see that she is gone.  A strong, smart, and determined woman is in her place.  I am proud of you Andy, and I know you will go far in life.  Here is an example of one of her essays for a college scholarship.

Discuss your short and long-term goals. Are some of them related? Which are priorities?

A Chance to Live the American Dream

My uncle and I were walking to my grandma’s place with groceries in hand when he broke our silence, “Until now, I never understood what Mom meant when she said she didn’t have a big chance since the beginning.”

            I looked at my Uncle Juan, puzzled, “What do you mean?” I asked. He met my gaze for a moment before gesturing all around him. I followed his gesture, and looked around us as we walked along Villa Madero’s streets back to my grandma’s place. Since my great grandpa died, my grandma tried to visit as much as possible to help with his farmland.   

It was my third time in Mexico, but this was the first time I realized the cultural differences when compared to Seattle. The other two times visiting I was four and eight years old, so the only difference I saw was that every relative I visited didn’t have a running toilet. Now at seventeen and a year away from college, I noticed the uneven bricks of cement that were supposed to be a street. I noticed the dogs that walked freely without owners. I saw old trucks pass that always contained at least four people in the back. I saw children as young as five years old selling fruits alongside their families. I watched men walk around, after working on their farmland, with dirt covered t-shirts and jeans with either a cowboy hat or baseball cap to protect them from the sun.

At the time, I didn’t understand my Uncle Juan’s statement because I had never questioned my grandma’s choices: I knew how much she had strived for something different. She had brought my mother to the United States with the “American Dream” to make something of herself and her family. That is as daring as it gets. I was raised alongside my four uncles, aunt and mother. I’ve grown up calling my grandma, “Mom.” When I was a baby, my grandma worked as a maid, went to community college for criminal justice and put dinner on the table.  The hard work she put herself through so that we could have a better chance of success inspires me. My grandma is the reason why I plan on becoming successful to share a comfortable living with my family. I will further achieve her American Dream.

In the short term, I plan to graduate high school and volunteer during summer vacation. I will work a summer job to save money for my freshman year of college, which I hope will be, at Seattle University. Because Seattle University’s Jesuit values follow some of my own values such as diversity, dedication to the community, justice and faith, it has become my dream school. In the long term, I plan to become my own boss of a company. I also plan to become more fluent in Spanish for more business opportunities and to connect to my family members who don’t speak English.

My newfound understanding of the hard work my grandma accomplished solidified my determination to go to college and get a good job. Like my grandma, I will follow through with my goals or continue to make new goals when circumstances change but I won’t stop to give up. Her actions taught me that every goal I make is a priority because each goal will lead to the next. I finally rested my gaze on him and replied, “Yeah, Mom did pretty well, didn’t she?” We stepped inside my grandma’s place with that day’s groceries in hand.

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