The moment I hung up with the recruiter from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I ran to my parents bedroom and told them the good news. It was in my second to last semester of high school and I was trying to finalize my plans for college. He offered to fly me out cost free for a weekend and to stay with a freshman in the dorms for the full experience.
To say the least, I was pumped up until I told my parents. Both had grown up in Mexico. My father is from Chihuahua City and my mother is from Juarez, which is the sister city to El Paso, Texas, my hometown. Dad and mom had only reached third and sixth grade, respectively. College wasnâ€™t an experience we were going to share. When I explained to them that visiting UNL would be crucial to making my decision they couldnâ€™t understand. Both were skeptical. They didnâ€™t understand what campus visits and recruiters were. What was worse was that they questioned why I didnâ€™t want to stay home and study at El Pasoâ€™s University. There isnâ€™t anything wrong with the University of Texas-El Paso. I just wanted to challenge myself by leaving my comfort zone.
My dad was insistent on not letting me leave for a weekend trip to Lincoln much less leave for four years.
But I was insistent too. I persuaded my parents to let me visit and when I fell in love with the campus and all it offered, I persuaded them to let me attend a school about 2000 miles away. I was the first of their four children to leave El Paso to pursue college.
All three years have been bittersweet but I believe that thatâ€™s the only way it should be. The bitter moments have proven to teach me life-long lessons. For example, this past November money was tight. Neither my parents nor I could afford a plane ticket home. For the first time, I had to spend Thanksgiving away from my family. Not being with them on such a special day made me value any family time I have.