I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and moved to Virginia when I was almost 2 years old. I had lived in a predominantly Hispanic/Latino area in Alexandria before my family and I moved again to Prince William County. We moved because my parents wanted my siblings and I lived in a safe place where we could attend a good school to get our education.

My parents always focused on our education, especially since they didn't have the opportunity to get theirs. So, as you can image, my parents were very tough on us when it came time to work on homework, projects, and whatever else what assigned to us. I was 6 years old when I started school, and although I was very young, I still remember all the obstacles we went through.

The summer before my first-grade year, my dad had gotten my sister and me a new (to us) desk that we would use to do our homework on. I was so excited, it was this large pink desk with two little drawers where we stored my pencils and crayons. Just the idea of doing American homework made me so excited, but when school came around, my excitement quickly vanished.

I caught onto the English language fairly quickly but reading and writing was a whole other story. My parents and I spent many nights sitting at that pink desk, struggling trying to figure out my homework assignment, but I couldn't understand it as I still didn't really know how to read or write. What made it even more difficult was that my parents were also limited in reading and writing of English. We struggled a lot, but we were able to come up with a system;

1. Break out the English/Spanish dictionary

2. Word for word, break down that homework assignment

3. Come up with an answer to the homework

4. Write the answer down, then translate it to English

5. Go back, reread (to the best of my ability) to make sure it sounded okay (this was my time to practice sounding out the words, my least favorite part)

6. Next day, ask a friend to look over homework to make sure I did okay

This was my homework routine for first and second grade. It was tough at first but luckily with time, it became easier. Made it even better was that my parents started attending English classes. They would practice what they had learned in class with my siblings and me. My parents were not going to let a language barrier get in the way of our education, so they worked just as hard as we were to learn all that we could. We grew and learned as a family.

I think back to these moments a lot because although we had many long nights trying to decipher my homework, my parents never gave up and kept pushing us to get our education. It's because of their tough love, their high expectations and their focus on our education, that I will be graduating this May.

Gracias Mami y Papi, esto es para ustedes. Los quiero mucho.

(Thank you, Mom and Dad, this one is for you. I love you so much)