As a first-generation Latina woman, I grew up in a gendered culture where women are expected to fill traditional gender roles and stay at home with their families. As a child, every Sunday morning my father would drag my sister and me out of bed to help my mother prepare breakfast for him and my younger brothers. I was taught that a woman stayed at home, learned how to cook and clean while men provided for their family. Being forced to follow gender roles has made me determined to break the stereotype, shifting the paradigm of the role of a woman.
My goal is to influence other young women and students to take charge and pursue traveling on their own to further their educational aspirations. By demonstrating to the Latino community that women are capable of travel to another country on their own. Living in a male dominated society, I want to inspire women to be independent and apply to programs like the Keith Sherin Global Leader Program. Being a first-generation college student, I want to be the first in my family to study abroad while influencing my younger siblings to see the potential of higher education.
While growing up, my family faced constant financial hardship. My parents could never afford to take my siblings and me to visit new places. Despite not being able to afford museum visits and outdoor trips, I spent my time outside in my backyard to expand my curiosity of nature. My global studies classes encouraged my interest to explore different parts of world to understand how communities and people function. From the Natural Geographic magazines that I collected from my school library’s recycling bin, my desire to travel abroad bloomed.
Seeing the diverse photographs from the various areas of the world attracted my attention as I began to collect photographs of places and people that I could only dream about traveling to. During my fall semester of my junior year at Liberty High School, I was introduced to the TRIO program. All my friends were planning out where they wanted to attend for college and were enrolled into college prep courses. Many of my friends’ parents had paid for them to attend ACT and SAT workshops.
Living with a single parent who was unemployed, I felt completely lost about how to afford college prep courses and preparing for the upcoming college entry exams. Being a first-generation student I felt overwhelmed by the process and requirements of applying to colleges. Working two jobs to financially support my family, I felt as though a post-secondary education was out of my financial reach. My older sister knew how much I wanted to attend college and told me about a program called TRIO-Educational Talent Search at my high school.
Through my own research, I learned that the TRIO program provides students like myself academic mentoring and college prep workshops. These were things I knew I needed in order to receive guidance for applying to colleges. Despite the TRIO program being full, I connected myself with the TRIO advisor and discussed with her how much I needed this program to support me in achieving my educational goal of attending college. Despite not being fully accepted into the TRIO-Talent Search program, I was determined to attend every workshop and college field trip that the program offered.
It was not until spring semester that I was fully accepted into the TRIO Talent Search program. Being a part of TRIO in high school made it possible for me to pursue a post-secondary education. Through the program, I have learned how to apply to scholarships to fully fund my education at Portland State University. The summer before my freshmen year of college I applied to the TRIO-Summer Bridge program, which showed me how to navigate through the college system, while learning about campus resources and in the TRIO program.
Being a part of TRIO has allowed me to be a motivated student determined to succeed. In addition, it has allowed me to incorporate educational skills into leadership positions on my campus as a Resident Assistant and Resident Academic Mentor for the Housing Department, and also as a Peer Outreach Mentor for the TRIO-SSS program at PSU. During my senior year of high school I took an AP U. S. Government and Politics course that allowed students the opportunity to study in Washington D. C. or one week.
Financing the trip was an obstacle however, my determination to personally experience historical monuments and further learn about our government judicial system drove me to work more shifts. Since traveling to Washington D. C. , I have become determined to study abroad to experience firsthand how different people around the world live day to day. By studying in Salamanca, Spain, I would challenge myself academically while being immersed in a community different than my own.
My goal is to experience an educational system different than the United States. By studying abroad, I will be exposed to different teaching methods taught by professors that will challenge my critical thinking. By experiencing diverse cultural values and ideas I can enhance my global perspective. Keith Sherin Global Leader program can provide me with the opportunity to strengthen my Spanish proficiency through immersion and interactions so that I become fluent.
Studying abroad will enhance my education not only in the classroom, but also outside as I learn through interactions with peers, locals, and exploring the rich culture of Spain. I want to study in a foreign country to be with other global-minded students who want to travel and discover the beauty of a new country. I believe that this program can offer me a life changing experience that will give me the chance to visit iconic sites of historical and agricultural beauty that can only be experienced in person.
Studying abroad will challenge my comfort zone and test my boundaries by trying new activities. My desire to travel abroad is a dream to achieve in order to enrich my academic learning and personal growth. Furthermore, the experience will provide me with career and language skills that I can use while working for the Hillsboro School District as a high school advisor for first-generation non-English speaking students. The experience will enhance my communication skills to connect students to leadership opportunities and educational resources.
Studying abroad will provide me with an opportunity to understand ways other countries support their students’ educational needs. By gaining stronger cultural awareness to promote cultural inclusion, I can better support and advocate for students’ educational needs. By studying in another country I am opening myself up to future possibilities such as internships and graduate schools. I believe this program can help me reach my career goals to be a role model for young woman and inspire them to reach their educational potential and strive for a better future.