Hispanic Heritage Month Reflections from a Dreamer

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Cinthya Ortiz (Fall 2016 Braven Fellow, San José State University)

I’m Cinthya – a twenty-two year old college student born in Morelia MIchoacan, Mexico. I was raised in Nipomo, California to a family of six. LIke thousands of others with no recollection of my home country, I was brought into the United States at the age of four. That’s right, I’m a Dreamer.

Growing up, this country constantly reminded me that I needed to “echarle ganas” to achieve the same goals as my peers. And even though this country celebrates Hispanic History Month, I was constantly reminded that I was different, solely my documentation status. My parents were rooted in that fear. And that fear grew through everyday interactions by faculty who made sure I filled out extra paperwork explaining the reason for not having a SSN assigned to me. It grew by having to wait for SB1060 to go into effect to obtain a license. These experiences have shaped and alienated me in ways only fellow Dreamers can understand.

Forming a community amongst ourselves, sharing our stories, and our worries, has been the motivation to move past, yet another hurdle in my pursuit to academic and personal goals. Additionally, the continued support I have been receiving from family, friends, colleagues, and faculty at SJSU has not gone unnoticed and I am incredibly grateful.

Personally, I have been encouraged by Marcos Pizarro, Mexican American Studies professor at SJSU, who has been speaking about Community Cultural Wealth and the assets that students like me bring to the world. He emphasizes the importance of our story and how to utilize it to solve issues that daily people like me face in the current political and social climate.

For me, there is no clearer career objective than to support my community and inform one another. Which actual job or career role I take to do that is still to be determined, but I do know that the need for Hispanic leadership in this country is great. We as a Hispanic community still hold less seats and titles in the workforce from local to Federal levels. I hope to play a role in closing closing that gap, and hope that this Hispanic Heritage Month you will join me.