Emma will be starting college at the University of Washington in the fall to study architecture. She wrote her story to share with you.
At the age of eight, I arrived in Seattle May 1st, 2001 with my mother and sister. We rode on the Greyhound bus from California, and prior to that we had actually traveled through Mexico in a bus as well. When we arrived in Mexicali, one of the border cities, we crossed in a car with my great aunt and her daughter. With our Mexican passports and Visa we were permitted to cross over to the United States for a couple hours, just enough time to “shop”. I did not cross the border illegally, but once my mom bought another set of bus passes I seriously doubted we were coming to the United States just for a quick shopping trip. Once again we boarded the bus and headed towards Seattle, where my mother had a job set up for her as a live in nanny of three young kids. It was through her job at a hotel that she learned of a family that needed someone to watch their kids and keep the house tidy. That is how my life in the United States had started.
I grew up with my drunk father breaking into our home every weekend, and a mother who left us home in order to make enough money to get through the month. I have two older brothers and a younger sister. In Mexico, life as a single parent is hell, and I saw that suffering in my mother. I come from an illiterate grandmother, parents that completed elementary school, and a family where having kids before the age of eighteen is normal. I wanted to prove to myself that I would become the person I chose to be, and not become a person determined by the circumstance. Even though I grew up knowing I was not an American Citizen, I told myself I would go to college because I committed myself to it, no matter how hard it would be. I was going to prove myself and in doing so, encourage and show my family that nothing is stopping them.
Growing up in the United States I felt very alone, just having my sister and my mom was not enough for me. I missed spending holidays with the whole family and feeling like I belonged. As time went along, I met a boy when I was in middle school. I was very foolish then and soon became pregnant. At the age of fourteen I gave birth to my rambunctious, beautiful and loving son Oscar. As with most teenage parents, his father and I did not last long and he chose to not be a part of his son’s life. I went through high school raising a kid alone with support from my family and trying to make it to classes. There were many sleepless days along with stressful ones. College was always on my mind. Yes it was difficult raising a kid and being a student but when you’re committed, nothing gets in the way.
There have been several people that have helped me get to where I am now, and Seattle Education Access is one of my supports. I first heard of SEA through my public health nurse. I contacted them my junior year in high school, and I was set up with Jason R. who would become my tutor and mentor through the whole college application process and scholarship search. Through these two years I have gotten close to Jason and another SEA volunteer, Cristina G.. who has become my inspiration. They mean so much to me. I am so grateful for SEA and the people who make it happen: Polly, Anthon, and everyone else.
Now, Oscar is going to be four in May and I feel old at just eighteen. My plans for college are to go into architecture and give back to my community, just as the wonderful people I have mentioned above are doing. I was accepted into the University of Washington and was also awarded a privately funded scholarship, The Costco Diversity Scholarship. It gives me a total of $40,000 for four years which makes me more than happy. Being an undocumented student and a teen parent has not stopped me one bit. I hope I can reach out to more students and encourage them to chase their goals and become the person they want to be. As for me, I will be at the UW for the next couple years, thanks to everyone at SEA.
Want to get this story delivered in your inbox? Sign up here for our monthly email newsletter.