Graudate Student (non-MBA)

When I was five years old, I would stare in awe as I wrapped my dad’s rough hands around mine at the end of the day. After decades of hard work in the fields of California, his hands had developed layers of calluses. At the time, I did not realize that my father chose back-breaking work so that my hands could remain soft. I did not understand why his hands did not mirror mine, nor did I comprehend my father’s sacrifices, which allowed me to focus on my studies. My father worked in the fields from the day I was born until the day I entered high school. Being a first-generation Mexican-American has not hindered my motivation. Instead, it has inspired my higher education goals. Financial strain, however, has always been a looming obstacle. This obstacle prevented me from completing my bachelor’s degree in 2014. The disappointment on my father’s face pushed me to find a way to finish what I had started. I have been working for the California Telephone Access Program, a non-profit organization that provides free specialized telephone equipment to Californians who have trouble hearing, seeing, speaking, remembering, or walking, since May of 2014. Through my work, I discovered that something I once considered a weakness is an asset: Spanish. I provide program outreach and install equipment in customer’s homes. I use my first language as a tool to help those in my community. I also earned enough that I was able to afford my tuition so I could continue my studies. Once my supervisor discovered that I had maintained a 3.9 GPA at Humboldt State University while working full-time, she told me that she believed I could not only earn my bachelor’s degree, but I could aim higher and complete a master’s degree. A master’s degree had always seemed unattainable to me. I once considered a graduate degree a luxury that only those with a privileged upbringing could attain. I was afraid that the yellow brick road to a master’s degree might be full of cracks that would cause me to trip and be wounded. Nevertheless, my supervisor planted a seed in my mind and continued watering it. She persisted in encouraging me to continue my education until I started believing it was possible. She told me, “¡Sí, se puede!” This simple phrase once spoken by Cesar Chávez embodies my approach to my academic and work goals. The phrase, “Yes, I can,” has pushed me to keep striving to gain knowledge. I will expand my knowledge and I have been accepted into the Master of Public Policy program at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. I will begin my classes in the Fall of 2017. I constantly remind myself that if the little girl who used to wrap her father’s rough hands around hers own could learn a new language and adjust to a new culture, then nothing can stop her from earning a master’s degree.

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