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U.S.A.: On her own: One young Latina strives for college success

By Angela Villanueva


I grew up middle-class, like almost every other Mexican-American in the Texas Valley. I was fed because the government would help us with food stamps, I was healthy because the government would help us with Medicaid and I finished high school because public schools are free — and I had the will, motivation and self-responsibility to want to finish.

For six years, my parents took my brothers and me back and forth to Michigan. As Mexican-Americans with no education, they needed to find a good job that would provide enough money for the family.

It was very hard to change schools all the time, especially from state to state. What they taught in Michigan was taught in Texas two years later. I never had a stable education because of our migration. But I was still in love with school; I wanted to be somebody in life, even if my parents didn’t.


When I started high school, we finally stopped migrating to Michigan and stayed in Texas. My mother and I were always fighting. My step-dad had stayed in Michigan to keep working while we stayed stable in one place for once.

The problems with my mother got so big, my brothers and I had to start seeing a counselor. He was a big help. He encouraged me and showed me how I could graduate in only three years from high school, so I did it.

I always loved school. They didn’t only teach me something new every day, I also got a lot of time away from my mother who just did not understand why I wanted to succeed in school so badly.

When the counselor told me about the high school three-year plan, I felt relieved. Plus, I would be a 17-year-old starting college, I was excited — there’s not many that young doing it.

I was excited, but my mother wasn’t. All she saw was me leaving her with nobody else to help her around the house or with my brothers.

My mother didn’t want me to go to college, not then, not ever. She just didn’t want me leaving her at all. Maybe it was the traditional Mexican-American culture that doesn’t like women going to college that makes her think the way she does.

I mean, she was raised in Mexico, but it doesn’t work like that anymore, especially not here in the United States.

We all deserve to get an education, whether we’re women or men, Hispanic or Anglo–everybody deserves to become better if that’s what one wants.

You see, I didn’t have a nice life with my mother. She never supported my education and that’s something very important that is needed in a young adult’s life. Regardless of my mom’s temper and bad influence, I stepped aside and became independent from her.

I learned that while it would be nice, we don’t need our parents’ support to become someone in life and be successful. What I’m saying is that even if our parents put us down rather than supporting us, it’s never wrong to step up for yourself and accomplish your goal.

Prove them wrong! I did!

Learn more about Angela

Angela Villanueva is a journalism student and Latina Lista intern from the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. Due to graduate in December 2011, Angela aspires to one day work at a magazine and write about all the interesting people she looks forward to meeting.

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