“SEA was the window of opportunity and hope I needed.”

Family is everything to me. With all of the ups and downs I have experienced in my life, I consider myself lucky because I know my family is always with me. My life plans have been accomplished because of the values I have learned from my family, culture, and community.  

My name is Jazmine Stephanie Hernandez, I am a 17-year-old Mexican American young lady who truly understands that to achieve your goals you must show respect, work hard, be responsible and express gratitude. My mother taught me to dream big and value education, and that is exactly what I have been doing since I was a young child.

My mother is from Mexico and my father from Honduras. Our home was full of harmony and love with my siblings. All of that changed when my grandmother passed away. My father sunk into a depression and began being more and more aggressive towards my mother. Our happy family began to slip away as bills started to stack up and we couldn’t afford all of our needs. My mother decided to separate from my father and though it was hard for us, I knew it was the best decision for our family. She got a job at U.P.S. and I saw firsthand what hard work was, watching my mother work nights and be up in the morning making us breakfast and getting us ready for school. With all of the changes happening around me, my grades began to suffer and I became depressed.  

In January 2012, our house caught on fire and we barely escaped out of the back door. We were fortunate enough to have the Red Cross put us up in a hotel for a week, but my mother and I were crushed about losing all of our possessions and memories in the fire. We later moved in with a family friend and months after that we were able to find a two bedroom apartment we could afford so we could start our new life.

My mom started to feel ill and had difficulty breathing. I saw her get worse and worse every day which worried me a lot because she ate less, couldn`t walk much, and her feet began to swell. On December 23, 2014, my mother in the emergency room, was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease and was told that dialysis was her only way to save her life. I was dying inside knowing that the person I love so much was suffering emotionally, physically, and mentally. She has no choice but to receive those treatments for the rest of her life or until she successfully has a kidney transplant. That day I noticed how lonely my mom was, but I felt how strong her love was for all of us. We were always by her side giving her comfort when she was at in the hospital, and she continues to get treatment three times a week.

When I was 14 years old I met my first partner and he was really special to me. I knew he was a nice person because he always treated people with good manners and respect. His parents offered my family help because they were aware of my mother`s health and financial situation. My dad knew I had a boyfriend and he told me he was not willing to support me if I became pregnant.  Later that year I discovered my pregnancy but I felt safe because I knew my partner was going to be there for support. My mom was not quite happy because I was really young and we were barely able to pay rent. 

I was so happy to become a mother and excited to share the news with my boyfriend. My excitement faded when he told me he was not interested in being a father an unwilling to take responsibility for our child. I later discovered he was part of a street gang and I didn’t want to raise my child near that environment. My mom and I decided we needed to move to be closer to her family in Seattle. My mother, siblings and I moved here to Washington when I was 4 months pregnant. I felt awful because my family was suffering the consequence of my actions. My mother told me this was not a mistake, but just a lesson I should learn from life. Because of my dad’s aggressive behavior, he currently is not aware of my baby`s existence and still pays my child support as a minor.

I gave birth to Julian Hernandez on January 7, 2016, and that day I was marked as a mother with pride, motivation and happiness. I was determined to complete my educational goals of finishing high school and attending college. With continued family backing, I work hard on being the best student I can for my son and for my little siblings to look up to.

I decided to work for high school and college credits since I detained my education during my pregnancy. When I felt everything was against me and dreams just couldn’t come true due to my low-income status, Seattle Education Access came in as the window of opportunity and hope I needed so desperately.  I want to demonstrate my ability as a Latina student and my role of mother as being a motivation never an obstacle.

SEA was and still is present to every important step I take and fortunately they will witness the results of their unconditional support during my graduation in this upcoming summer. The moment I submitted my first college application they assisted me with lots of resources and paid for all the fees (admin. & registration) which served as one more of my desires to achieve remarkable grades once being accepted into Bellevue College (the institute I currently attend). Purchase of books, transportation assistance, and several other needed assets was provided by SEA since my first college course. I have the commitment to make SEA proud of the faith, effort, and advocacy they’ve always instilled in my educational and personal life; SEA is simply the best in serving the community of low-income students.  SEA understands that at some point, we all think about just surrendering and giving up because of the lack of financial means to become a college student.

I will be graduating this summer (June 2019) with honors. My life has been pretty tough at times and I want to tear down all of the obstacles stopping me from achieving my goals. I want to raise my son to value his education and be able to provide him with all the tools he needs to have a bright future. I want to complete my career to help support my family financially and raise them out of poverty while guiding my siblings to go through the same path. All the experiences I have had in my life so far made me who I am, and I will prove to everyone in my family that even though I have my son I can graduate from university as with a law major. I will be the first graduate in my family to be successful young mother, student, and daughter and make my mother proud of the child she raised from her own.  

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