Why Do You Care So Much About Education? • ¿Qué Means What?

Why Do You Care So Much About Education?

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“Why do you care so much about education?”

That’s a question that I often get asked. It’s valid because I’m usually the person who can direct a conversation around to the value of education. I care so much about education BECAUSE education is what changed my life.

My college gradation diploma, program, hat and tassle

My college graduation diploma, program, hat and tassel

I grew up in a tiny Texas town. I knew from an early age that I wanted to leave that town and ‘go away’ to college. I had no idea, really, how I would do it, afford it or I would ever make it on my own. Thankfully, I joined a leadership organization in high school and met people who showed me a way.

However, by the time I graduated from high school, no one in my family had gone to college and graduated. No one with whom I had a personal relationship could really guide me through the college application process. And, unfortunately, my high school counselors weren’t taking me by the hand to show me either.

Throwback - HBSA 2002 Field Trip to Visit Top Texas Businesses

Throwback – HBSA 2002 Field Trip to Visit Top Texas Businesses

I started taking part-time classes at a junior college. I was paying my entire way by working in retail. Part-time tuition was all that I could afford. Then, I moved over 300 miles across the state to attend another junior college. This time, my best friend’s parents lent me the money to pay for a full-time semester until I could pay them back with my grant money. Eventually, I was able to transfer to a four-year university to complete my Bachelor’s degree.

Valladolid Spain 2002

My last day of my study abroad summer program in Valladolid, Spain with my host mother and roommate

It really wasn’t until I studied at the university did my perspective on life change. While I was still working in retail to pay my tuition, I had opportunities to join student leadership organizations where I took field trips to the headquarters of some of Texas’ leading companies. I spent a summer studying abroad in Spain. I took Mexican-American Studies and Chicano Literature classes. Before the university, I had never read a book written by a Mexican-American. The impact of Sandra Cisneros’ words alone was life-changing.

I was never the same. I wasn’t the same girl from that small Texas town. When I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, I had a stronger sense of who I was and I was full of determination to reach my goals. I believe with all of my being that today I would not be successfully building an online community around topics that are important to American-Latino families if I had not studied in my university.

The day I got to meet and interview Sandra Cisneros

The day I got to meet and interview Sandra Cisneros

Yet, when I look back, I remember that most of what I did and how I got to college was because people supported me at work, my family encouraged me, and of course, my best friend’s parents had given me that small loan. I wish I had known about more resources like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund who has recently included Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. as an official partner. Having access to organizations like these who support the Latino community in higher education would have been a huge asset to my journey.

Despite not knowing about The Hispanic Scholarship Fund, I know that my path was just as it was supposed to be. My education changed my life. I learned the lessons that I needed to learn. I met the people whom I needed to meet. I answered the challenges that I needed to answer. And I even failed when I was supposed to fail.

You, Mis Queridos, are reading this blog post for a reason too. Are you a parent of a student who is about to begin their journey in college? Or are you like my best friend’s parents who would like to donate to help someone else begin their journey in college?

Visit my.HSF.net to APPLY for the scholarship or DONATE today. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund application is now open for new students. The deadline to apply is March 30th. 

Please share with me and others WHY do you care so  much about education.

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

Original content creator for ¿Qué Means What? Texas Latina mom blogger celebrating culture in education, entertainment and family life.

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