December 19, 2003

Who Empowers Me?

The high price of higher education

By Lizette Escobedo

Become a “Succeful Latina! Educate yourself!!”

This is one of the most infamous mottos in today’s Latino society, and this was one of my inspirations during high school. I didn’t want to be the next “Maria” or “Jose” — the submissive Mexican/Chicana that falls into American norms in order to assimilate and accomplish the “American Dream” that America “sells” to our parents and grandparents, who then migrate to “the land of opportunities”.

I wanted to be ME! Unique, a descendent of a rich Mexican culture, and succesful!

Therefore coming from a lower income immigrant Mexican family I saw that the only portal for success was through higher education. During my high school years, I was told by many that my only option to a higher education would be a Cal State. They suggested that I could aim for something higher, like a UC or a private institution, but my chances for being admitted would be minimal. However, this didn’t stop me and I felt like I accounted for the thirst and hunger that a prestigious institution required.

I was accepted and enrolled to UC San Diego in Fall of 2002, I was excited but was also dissillusioned to see the lack of Latinos at the institution. I had heard about the scarcity of Chicanos in higher collegiate institutions, but this is where it finally hit me: It was REALITY!

In my face!

I felt like an inferior amongst all these science oriented Anglos and Asians but I did not let this in any way shadow my thirst for education. Because, after all, if I wanted to become a succesful Latina I had to educate myself. This quote played over and over in my head and I thought to myself, well there is many succesful Latinos in today’s society, then maybe I could do it too!

Now, I sit here, in my second year at UCSD. I stand with even more thirst for success than I began with. But, this year I was faced with the scarcity of money to continue such higher education. I feel like I have so much to offer but I feel oppressed by the lack of economic resources.

I try to go back to the community that I grew up in — Pico Rivera — and encourage fellow Latinos to persue a higher education, because after all this education is what is going to liberate them. But I never mentioned how financially Oppressed they would be, after paying those $18,000 per year!

I tried to seek economic help by my fellow Latinos who promoted higher education but found no help, not one penny. Instead, the scholarship I was provided was from an organization from the oh-so-wealthy business chamber from La Jolla, California!!

Had my Latino community rejected to help this Latina who hungers education but lacks resources? Me, who who is so proud of this Mexican heritage, was not good enough or perhaps not assimilated enough to deserve these Hispanic scholarships?

Now, I am a Chicana student who lives off a $20 a week contribution that I get from my parents, but reads over five hours per day in order to be up-to-date in my 16-unit-quarter. For my ethnic studies class i write about the need for Latino/Chicano empowerment in our communities.

But who empowers me?

Lizette Escobedo is 19 year old Chicana, offspring of immigrant Mexicans. She grew up in Bell Gardens and Pico Rivera and is in her second year at the Umivisersity of California, San DIego majoring in Communications and minoring in Ethnic Studies.

Reprinted from

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