graduation

Throughout my 22 years of existence, commencement was the ceremony my family and I looked forward to the most.

I had told my father that I would be graduating in May at the beginning of the semester and he laughed in disbelief. Regardless, he said he would be there and that he was proud.

By the looks of it, a traditional ceremony is out of the question due to the COVID-19 pandemic and frustration fills my mind.

Growing up as the black sheep of the family, no one expected me to graduate high school — let alone pursue higher education. Now, I will be the first in my family of six to graduate.

This ceremony would mark a new era of education for my family.

Being Mexican-American with immigrant parents who never had the opportunities that I had, I feel a tremendous weight on my shoulders to pursue a career that is greatly feared in Mexican society.

The job of a journalist.

“Journalist get killed,” my grandma said after I told her her my plans to become one.

Her fear stems from the violence against journalists during their reporting about narco violence in Mexico. Despite that, my grandma told me she was proud despite her concerns and agreed to attend the ceremony in May and flew out two weeks ago.

My parents are from the poorest state in Mexico called Guerrero, a destination for drug violence and extortion, and my grandparents continue to make a living off the land.

My mother graduated high school in Cuajinicuilapa, Guerrero, an underdeveloped agricultural town, and later crossed to America not knowing the language or the cultural differences.

My father promised my grandfather he would send money back while pursuing the American dream at the age of 19. He now works in apartment management and is still pursuing that dream.

My oldest brother attended University of Arizona for business straight out of high school. He dropped out.

My second oldest brother attended Irvine Valley College and battles with mental illness. He dropped out.

I am the next in line to achieve what my ancestors could never, an opportunity to rise above the stereotypes ingrained into society and gain something that will never be taken away from me — an education.

I always told my parents I would make them proud, even when they lacked faith in me.

Commencement was the opportunity for me to show them that for once, I was serious about my future. It was the opportunity for me to show that I had fulfilled all the coursework required to embark on a career in reporting no matter the dangers that may be present.

I feel selfish being angry about potentially not being able to walk across that stage when there are so many people struggling with life and death situations and my problem seems so small.

But, I can’t help the overwhelming feeling that my achievements will go unrecognized. 

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