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Janet Llamas Diaz Caterine Mucu Adriana Castro Eduardo Menendez Gabriel Aparicio English 1A Rivas-Gomez March 28,

2014 No One Told Us

As I was preparing for my senior class at Obama High school in Pasadena, I was a bit nervous to see the batch of new seniors I'd have. I walked out the office with the list of my new students when I heard a student shout "Dr. Reed!" I turned to see the face of a former student from a freshman class I taught. It was Diego, who was in my ESL class his freshman year but now was a senior and graduating. It was a quick hello before he rushed to his first period. First period is my when I meet with some colleagues and discuss our process in class. When I arrived to the lounge I found myself there with Mr. Andrews another English teacher. Mr. Andrews looks over and tells me, "You know what Dr. Reed, I am not putting up with any childish behavior this semester, I'm simply giving referrals and hope they get sent to one of those remedial schools, then they wont be my problem. I thought to myself why would we want to write them up, that just meant we were giving up on their education. We, as teachers, support them here in high school and have a huge impact on the rest of their lives; whether it is positive or negative. I simply responded, "You know what Mr. Andrews? I will be working with my students because I want to see them graduate. He gave me a dirty look, and just then the rest of the staff walked in. Mrs. Garcias (Math teacher) Mr. Roberts (chemistry teacher) Mrs. Hernandez (ESL teacher) gathered around the table and begin to comment on how they are excited for the school year. At this point I was a bit irritated by Mr. Andrews remark, when I

suddenly hear him bring it up to the rest of the teachers. This was definitely going to be interesting to hear. Mrs. Garcia then says, I just got a box of referrals, this year I have zero tolerance for nonsense, and its usually Black students or Mexican students that give me a hard time, but not this year. She continues, If I cant deal with them I will make sure continuation school is their next stop. I looked over at Mrs. Hernandez, and her face was blank, she had watery eyes and she looked like she was ready to run out the lounge. Mrs. Garcia, what benefit do you have of getting rid of these students, if anything youre influencing them to believe education is not important, she says. If they continue to believe these thoughts, itll only create an even more toxic environment for the students and teachers will be able to push them out (Yosso and Solorazno, 2006). I then thought about my student Diego back when he was a freshman he did give me a hard time, but that just motivated me to continue working with him until he finally began to care about his own education. The conversation between my colleagues continued, but Mrs. Hernandez and I could not convince Mr. Andrews and Mrs. Garcia to change their minds. Meanwhile Mr. Roberts was just making his coffee listening to the conversation. Then Mrs. Garcia turns over and says, What do you think Dr. Reed, dont you think that is the way to go? Just get rid of them and teach those who have an interest to learn? My heart dropped, I couldnt help but think of Diego. And I simply replied, I disagree, because then I wouldnt be doing my job as a teacher. Second Period Alright students, its a new year but it is also your last. Your time here at Obama High School is coming to an end and all I can say is, Im proud of you. You have all come so far and still youre going to go farther! Before we get started, can I ask you guys a question? Heads are nodding all around. How many of you already know what college or university you will be

attending next year? Im anxious to hear what they have to say, anticipating their response. 2 hands go up. Wait, what? I say, devastated. Um, Dr. Reed? I looked around to see where the voice was coming from and saw a familiar face. Diego. Diego was in my ESL class 3 years ago, he had first arrived to the United States the year before and he was just beginning high school. The boy was a genius with a bit of an attitude problem. He never did his work and would constantly talk back or he would have outbursts during class. I had such a hard time dealing with him that I remember giving him several referrals but when I realized that that method wasnt working, I took another approach. I became a friend. He started opening up to me about his home life and the way his parents would treat him. He mentioned several times the quality of his community and how there werent any white people where he lived. He didnt feel safe at home and so he would ask me if he could stay late in class to finish up homework. How could I say no? So, I would stay with him, help him with whatever homework he had, worked with him and showed him that I really cared for him and his future. Since then, Diego had cleaned up his act. He passed my ESL class and went on to regular English. Yes Diego? Do you want to know the reason only 2 hands went up? I didnt understand what he meant. You see, Ive been here a total of 3 years going on 4. I have seen, heard, and experienced things that have opened my eyes to a lot of things. What do you mean Diego? Dr. Reed, Im brown. My whole life Ive been a brown kid and I have no problem with that. In fact, I love the color of my skin. Reminds me of chocolate and who doesnt love chocolate? A lot of people. Some people chuckled, and others agreed.

Im sorry Diego but youve lost me. I honestly had no idea what he meant, or where he was trying to get at. Dr. Reed, did you know that in the 3 years that Ive been here, none of these counselors have pulled me out to ask me about college? You know my situation but if I hadnt done some research of my own I never would have known that my situation was no reason to stay out of college. Did you also know, that the only time my counselor pulled me out of class was to tell me of job offers and vocational classes I could take? I know that Im not the only one whos experienced this, am I right? (Yosso 100). I looked around the room and saw several of my students whispering to one another, nodding their heads in agreement. How could this be possible, my new students, who were going to be my pride and joy as they walked down the stage to receive their diplomas, had no idea what came after high school.

Summer 2013 Diego, what are we supposed to do? Amanda asked me, as she paced back and forth I dont know, I dont know. No one ever told me what we had to do. I was so frustrated because I really didnt know what I had to do. Lets go to the registration office, then! Amanda said, grabbing my arm. As we walked around campus, we finally found a sign that directed us to the L- Building. When we walked in, a friendly face greeted us. Her olive skin glowed underneath the fluorescent lights. Her bright eyes were the color of dirt after a summer rainstorm. She was tall and lean; she made me feel small yet safe. Do you need any help, dear? Amanda and I walked over to her. Um, yes actually we have no idea what were doing. What exactly do you need help with?

We want to register for the fall semester, but we dont know how. Her eyes lit up as if she were happy to know that we were confused. Alright well, if you go down the hall to the left youll find the admissions office and there theyll be able to help you with any questions you have about registering. Oh, okay. Thank you. No problem, Sweetie. She flashed her pearly whites in the most comforting way possible and I knew that she was happy to have helped. I hope the next lady is as nice as she was. Amanda whispered to me as we started down the hall.Yeah, me too.In huge letters that read Admissions was right where the lady at the front desk had said. One thing the lady forgot to mention was that the entire state of California was lining up to talk to the admissions clerks as well. Oh God, what is this? Amanda said in shock. My goodness, I think everyone and their moms are here, literally. No, Diego. I am not waiting forever. Amanda, we have to, she sighed in surrender, okay. For the next 3 hours we stood in a line in front of a coughing, sneezing and wheezing man and behind a man cursed with flatulence. This was gonna be a long day. Santiago Messi Its a beautiful summer day in California. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, the waves are killer and where am I? At school. My name is Santiago Messi. I am a first-year student at Pasadena City College. I am half-White and half-Spanish. My parents divorced when I was 10 and ever since Ive been going back and forth between families. This summer, its Dads turn to put up with me. Now, I love Dad, sometimes more than I do Mom but this summer Im not so fond of him. Why? Because he just started his own retail business, and as proud and happy as I am for him, Im pretty pissed because it means that I wont get to go to soccer camp in

Barcelona. Instead I have to go to school. Dads place just opened up down the street from PCC and we live only a couple of blocks away. I really dont want to go to school over the summer. Id rather be surfin waves and getting the babes! Its summer for Petes sake, why would I want to be here? Well, here we go. First class of the Summer: Psychology. Roll Call Jonathan Adams? Here. Diego Carbajal? Present. Wesley Fernandez? Here. Amanda Garcia? Present. Amy Lee? Here. Harout Mardirosian? Here. Santiago Messi? Present.

Psych 101 I introduced myself to my Summer class, and was glad this semester was more diverse than the previous semester. I am Dr. Reed, im thrilled to begin these interesting lectures with you all. My standards for the class are fairly manageable, Im just hoping the students have as much interest in class as I do. I recognized Diego and Amanda sitting in the corner; I knew it was going to be a great semester. Students, look to your left and right. What makes you different from the person sitting next to you? I gave them time to look around and suddenly ideas sparked and hands flew up in the air. They shouted answers like Asian! and Hispanic! Girl! and Guy! and I was glad to see that the conversation had gone the way I planned. Yes, race and gender! I exclaimed. Students this is just an idea that separates us all, we are all the same inside. I will be assigning you your first group project for the Summer based on race and gender. (reading groups out loud) Diego Carbajal, Amanda Garcia and Santiago Messi you will be together for this assignment. I suggest you start as soon as possible, exchange numbers and emails it will come in hand.

A Week Later Diego, do you guys wanna come over so we can continue working on our project? I wanted to get this done and over with. I know that Im the only girl in this group but that didnt mean that I was going to pick up after the guys. Ive always been a straight A student. I love, love, love learning. The fact that there are so many things to learn is absolutely fascinating. Albert Einstein once said, The more I learn, the more I realize how much I dont know. That is exactly how I feel. The more I learn, I see how much more there is to life itself. I wish I had the

brain capacity to absorb everything, and learn everything. I love learning and Im looking forward to psych. I feel like this is gonna be a good semester and Im not gonna let anybody ruin that for me. Not even Diego. I love that boy but I hate when he slacks off, which is often. Yeah, well be over. Ill pick up Santi and then well come over. Do you want me to bring food? Diego said over the phone. No, my moms making your favorite: posole. Diego has always loved my mommas posole so I had asked her to make it for when he came over. Amanda, tell your mother I love her. I couldnt help but smile, I will. See you later. Chicana Power Hey! Diego where are you going right now? It was another friend of mine who is part of my study group for counseling, Leo. It seemed as if he wanted to hang out, but I couldnt I was on my way, to the Amandas house to work on our group project that Dr. Reed had assigned. I thought to myself, Hopefully, Santiago and I get along, he seems uptight,hopefully he is like Leo: easy to get along with. As I had a short chat with Leo before leaving to Amandas he says, Dude, I hope that you and I can beat this education system that isnt in our favor. We have been put down since we were born and now we have a chance to challenge these statistics of Latino students not graduating. Leo was right, I remember Dr. Reed telling me that, of the 26 Chicana/os who continue on to college after high school, 17 begin at a community college.(Yosso 99). Weve always been told that we do not belong here or that well just end up in the streets selling drugs.c This made me think of all the struggles, we as Latin@s go through. When suddenly Amandas voice pops into my head, Latinas go through so much more because of the fact that were females.We are constantly being harassed, disrespected, put down and shut up. Men think that because were women, were inferior to them and they think they have the right to limit our freedoms. (Association for Childhood Education International). When I had

arrived to Amandas house I brought up what I was thinking. She responds, Please! If it werent for us women, there would be no life here on Earth. Men need us, theyre just too stupid to see it. Ive never heard Amanda talk like this, ever since she began that Chicanos studies class in the beginning of the semesters, shes been speaking up for herself a lot more. I guess, in a way, Im proud of her. She kept on talking You know? Right now we are considered the minority group but CNN thinks that by 2050 were going to be the majority (CNN). Females have the same level or experience but just because we are females we get paid less. We are also expected to be dumb and not be able to work as hard like a man. If we do get aggressive and do our work as we are suppose to the men call us bitches or bitchy only because we are doing our work. Many of the time before we get hired we are viewed by our looks before we even get the job. If a women becomes successful we are viewed as a know it all but if a man if successful he is admired and patted on the back. At home being raised in a Latino household my dad never lets me have a word in any conversation. I am judge by what I wear and how I speak when my brother wears his pants down his butt and is always cussing but I need to watch everything I do. Machismo is something that is big at my house and tends to give the women an idea that we should never be respected as an equal. Many times at home we are expected to not work and not go to school. We are expected to learn three things, which are, cook, clean, and take care of children. At school guys do not like a smart nerd girl they like that dumb cute blonde that has no idea what she wants. We women have so many struggles to go through in public. Men and even other women judge us by what we wear or how we look. If we are wearing too much make up or too little make up. We are up hold to look like every women model. Since we are born we are told that those skinny, flawless, perfect women in the media are suppose to be our role models. We are forced by this environment to meet standard on how we look. That is shocking; words

are not enough to describe how much of affects your words had on me Amanda. Being Latina is hard enough but also included all the struggles of women is insane. Sorry for being so quick to judge and not think that you might have more disadvantages than me just by being a woman. How is it for you in school? Well my dad luckily realized that here in the United States we can not be someone without going to school and getting a degree so he encouraged me to go. Of course he did not have any money to try to help me out so I had to get a part time job and go to school. Luckily I did qualify for financial aid, which is a big help for me. Amanda I feel the same way but hopefully we can change those statistics. I notice that we as men do not have as many walls as women but I believe our struggle is still hard. We as men are expected to find a job straight out high school to help the family and we are also expected to be tough no emotion. At school I believe that we are taking more seriously than women and I also notice that many times when teachers talk about an author or someone smart its a man not a women. Many things go against women and men benefit from this thing but at the end of the day we are both Latinos and have many struggles there. Santi and I called it a night, so we decided to go home. Just as I was close to my house I noticed red and blue lights flashing behind me. It was a cop. Pulling over to the curb I kept my hands on the steering wheel being so frighten that if I moved them the officer would believe there was a gun. Officer Taylor asked me for my license and registration and I reached over to the glove department and handed them with always finishing my sentence with sir. Officer Taylor was a tall, about six feet; he stayed in his car for almost twenty minutes while dying in fear my mind was. I have a clean record and never have gotten a ticket and this was the first time a police officer pulls me over. Finally those long twenty minutes were over and the officer handed me my paperwork and asked, Do you know why youre being pulled over? No sir. You have a tassel hanging on your rearview mirror, I am going to let you go with a

warning but do not forget to take it off. For some reason I do not believe that is the reason the officer went out of his way to pull me over. It could just be because I am Latino and he probably thought he could get me for that. I guess it will be a mystery but my head is too tired to think about anything else. Next day when Amanda and I were on our way to school we started talking about the struggles that Latino students have at school. I decided I wanted to see a counselor to get some advice on what I should do with school. Getting a better insight on how transferring works, and how would it affect me since I am brown and undocumented. A Morning Meeting The taste of fresh coffee has never been more refreshing, although a bit too hot for this warm day at Pasadena City College. I began to organize my desk and put away the mess of papers that have collected over the past couple days, preparing for a student meeting that I had scheduled earlier in the week to develop an Educational plan. As I recall, the students name was Diego, a first-year PCC student who seemed somewhat lost and confused when he contacted me at the Counseling office. Whatever the case, As a counselor It is my job to tend to the flock and make sure all uncertain students find themselves on the path to success, despite any challenge. I had about fifteen minutes to prepare myself before Diego was scheduled to come in, so I decided to look up his current transcript records on my computer to gain some insight. As I thought, he had about some units of General Ed finished from the Fall and Summer sessions and was an undeclared for his major which is rather typical for most undecided students entering from High school. As it stood, he was taking a couple Gen. Ed. courses this spring semester as well, which made it rather obvious to see that he was still trying to figure out his career path. A swift knock on my door grabbed my attention as I yelled for the freshman to come in, with brief introductions following. Good afternoon, Diego. Hows it going? I ask as

he hastily pulled himself a seat in front of my desk. Im doing alright, Mrs. Smith, Thank you, he nervously replies. Im glad you were able to meet with me today and I hope youll be able to help me figure out my options for next semester. Feeling the uneasiness in the air, I decided to try and break the ice with some basic questions to better understand. Well, first off, do you know what youd like to do in terms of a career? I asked in order to understand what he may like or dislike in any area of study. Im not entirely sure, but I think perhaps something relating to Dr. Reeds field has caught my eye since being in her class at my old high school, Diego said. Ah, Psychology is a very promising field, Diego. With so many different studies, Im sure youll be able to transfer to a great school and obtain a doctorate just like Dr. Reed! I began, but soon stopped when I noticed a somewhat disappointed look in Diegos eyes. You see, Mrs. Smith, Im not even sure that Ill be able to achieve any of this, he said, in an almost whispering tone. You see, I am an undocumented student here at PCC, and I was wondering if there was anything available at PCC to help me achieve my transfer goals. Is there anything you can do that could help me get started on the right track? I sat somewhat astounded as to what I heard. In any normal case, I would be outlining a list of classes that he could take for his prospective major, and even going over options for potential schools to finish his degree. Im sorry, Diego but being undocumented really sets a bar to how far you can achieve at this school. As it stands, Latino students already have a less than 10% chance at even achieving the transfer goals they make as they enter PCC ( Yosso 99). Being undocumented only adds to this difficulty, preventing you from most resources that would normally be available to you as a documented student, such as FAFSA, I regretfully finish, a terrible look developing in Diegos eyes as I do. Well Thank you anyways Miss,

Diego said, as he stood and walked out. Though I felt terrible for telling him this, in truth students like Diego most often get pushed out from PCC during worst case scenarios and rarely ever obtain 2-year or bachelor degrees after enrolling into community college ( Covarrubias 95). The chances for Diego to succeed were slim from the beginning, however I cant help but feel if there was some hope for him to succeed anyways.

Done With First Semester After the Summer session ended Diego asks Amanda how she felt after completing her first semester at PCC. She seemed confused, she then questions me and asked what i meant. I respond saying, Yeah, in other words, what struggles do you have at PCC? Because I feel like I am lost and I do not belong here at times.When I told that to Amanda I realized the shock and confusion in her face but I did not know exactly why, I guess its because she felt differently. What do you mean that you do not belong Diego, every student no matter where they come from has the right to be at a college and get an education. When Amanda told me that, I was the one with the shock and confused face and I guess she noticed that because she asked me why I thought I did not belong in college. I mentioned to her how begin an undocumented student was not an easy thing especially when it came asking for help. Diego Talks To His Counselor Friday morning I walked to my counselors office I felt like she did not even want me to be there just by glancing at her facial expressions. Even though I felt that unwanted vibe I had the courage to still go get as much information as I could. But that all changed one day when I asked the ultimate question that would change my life. What classes do I need to take to transfer

to a 4 year university? I couldnt believe what she told me, then and there i ran to Amanda to talk to her about it. Amanda was now like a sister to me. As i told Amanda what i was up to this morning she was eager to hear what the counselor told me.What did she tell you Diego!? Anxiously Amanda asked me with an intrigued face. I said to her, She told me that I had no chance to transfer to a four year university because I was undocumented, and I was going to have many doors close on me for that reason. Amanda's face went blank, and asks Are you serious Diego what counselor was that? Diego that is considered a microaggression! Microaggressions are statements that are made to insult people whether it is verbally or non verbally (Yosso, 101). Amanda was upset that i didnt defend myself. .To be honest I thought to myself, I preferred not to tell Amanda for I knew she would go up to the counselor and make a big scene. So I decided to distract her by telling her my thoughts and emotions from that moment on. From that moment on I began to lose interest in school and began to think that I had no purpose of attending college if I was not going to be able to transfer. I looked for help in other places like classmates but some of them were just as lost as I was and so I did not even bother. Surprisingly not only did I receive microaggressions in other words insults by that one counselor but by teachers and students as well. I still remember on the first day that I entered to my English 1A class and many of the white classmates told me What are doing here? Isnt this class too hard for you? As I heard my new classmates I began doubting myself and wondered if indeed I was going to be able to accomplish this class. Even though I began to doubt myself I still went through the semester. By the third week my professor told us we needed to buy four books one of them begin one hundred and sixty dollars. It might not seem too much money for teachers or certain students but for me it was sure a lot of money. Why didnt you ask for help from

FAFSA? Amanda asked irritated at this point forgetting I was undocumented and did not qualify for it. Second Year At PCC So I went on telling her how all I wanted to do was to finish college and transfer to a 4 year university but from how I saw things I did not believe that was possible. To make things worse I was on my second year at PCC and barely found out that the classes I had taken were not all the ones I needed to be eligible to transfer. To be honest I did not even know that there were certain classes that I needed to take in order to transfer to the university I wanted. I guess that was due to the lack of help my counselor or can I even say my counselor. Wow Diego why didnt you register in Puente Program since your first year at PCC? Puente Program what is that Amanda? Puente Program is a program that helps Latino/Latina students just like you and me at college to get the information needed to transfer to a 4 year university. In fact Puente has helped my journey in college be a lot smoother not only did I get informed by my teachers about many things like information about universities I might be interested but I was surrounded by nice environment that made me believe I could achieve my career goal. Yeah but I am undocumented and you are not thats why you say that Amanda. No Diego for Puente it does not matter if you are undocumented on the other hand its better for you because they will help you all the way. When Amanda told me that it did not matter if I was undocumented I felt so glad and frustrated at the same time for if I had applied to it I would be transferring just like Amanda. Look Diego you are right I am documented unlike you but

that does not mean I do not have struggles because I do the only difference is that I have people to help me and to guide me. I have teachers and even classmates that protect me from microaggressions and thats all thanks to Puente. Come on Diego its never too late to join Puente and ask for help. When I heard Amanda say that I realized that a door opened for me after many were closed. For the first time after two years in college I was told it did not matter if I was undocumented. One of the best feelings ive come across in college. Diego being undocumented does not mean that you can not have an education and attend a university you want if you have the grades and find the right help like Puente you will find the right road to accomplish your career. That is not what I have been told. Forget about what you have heard. Ive heard things that can be considered to be microaggressions but I did not listen to them and look where I stand right now.After Amanda told me this I knew that I had a future. I knew that I could do something with my life. I knew that it was possible for me to transfer out of here and get a higher education. All I needed to do was open up to the wise words of those before me and join the Puente Program. Then Id be on my way. Graduating PCC Here we are three years later. I look over to my left and see Amanda, in her red gown and beige stilettos. She looked great. To my right, was my right hand man, my wing man, my best friend and partner in crime, Santiago. The first time I met Santi was summer 2013, he was the rich kid. He had his nose up in the air and didnt want to do anything. Now, I wonder how different my life would be without him. Hes become my confidante. I feel so proud of each and

every one of us. No one believed we would go to college but on this beautiful spring afternoon, the three of us were ready to prove everyone wrong. Santiago had decided to major in kinesiology since his love of sports never died out. Amanda, decided she wanted to go on and major in Biology and later Med school where she would specialize in pediatrics And I, well, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the one person who changed my view on life, Dr. Reed. I made the decision to major in psychology so that I can return to college and teach students what Dr. Reed taught me. Because with her passion and fervor, my world was turned upside down. Thank you, Dr. Reed, for never giving up on me. And thought to myself I beat the statistic, Fifty-six percent of Chicana/o students do not graduate high school and only 7 % graduate from college. ( Yosso, 2). Works Cited
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