2017 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
REEDLEY HIGH SCHOOL
GEORGINA CEDENO “In my youth I remember my father coming home in summer time after an arduous day in the fields. The sun was blazing, and he asked me for a drink. We sat quietly outside, our eyes traveling across our yard. After some time, he asked me to bring him sandals so he wouldn’t bring dirt from the fields into the house. I did as he bid me, and seeing the soreness in his movements, his face lined with sand dust, I removed his shoes and put on the sandals. Each day from then on, I did the same. It became my unspoken small way to thank him each day for his work. In our busy lives, I cherish these moments. I am able to lay aside my stress and worries for a few minutes, spent instead sharing my thoughts and a laugh with my father.” Georgina earned a 4.35 grade point average and ranks number 1 in a class of 390. She’s majoring in Biology at Cornell University.
YESICA CORTES-HERREJON “My life has been a challenging one because my family had to migrate to different places to follow the agricultural season. I have had the experience of working in the fields since I was 12 years old. I have to say that it’s one of the hardest jobs. My parents worked in the fields their entire life. Working in the fields is not only hard work, but it’s also dangerous because of all the chemicals that are used. School became my priority when I saw all the sacrifices that my parents had to do to try to give my siblings and me a better life than the one they had. Working in the fields was a very good experience that made me a whole new person, and now I value the simplest things in life. I have come to the conclusion that in life if I want something, I have to work hard to reach my goals.“
PEDRO CRUZ LOPEZ “I come from a low income family with a hardworking father who works long hours in harsh conditions just to make ends meet. I have been influenced by my family, especially my father. He taught me that nothing in this world is free. In order to get something, you will have to work hard and earn it. I have realized that although I encounter struggle in life, there are many other families that have it harder. This lead me to not take anything in my life for granted and appreciate everything I am given. Overall, I am a hard working student who will keep fighting to pursue a higher education even if the odds are stacked against me.” Pedro has a 4.0 GPA and is eager to pursue his career goal as a Civil Engineer.
SERGIO DOMINGUEZ "I will be a first generation college student who comes from a low income family. Therefore, education means more than just knowledge, but success. My father sometimes has to work long hours in order to make ends meet. I don’t want to place the pressure on my family, especially on my family, to make them think I depend solely on them to get me through college. This scholarship will support me in my plans to ultimately give back to my community where I was born and raised. My goal is to graduate at the top of my class and attend . . . UC, Santa Cruz and major in Geology. This major inspired me by my love of science and the mysteries of the earth.”
OFELIA FERREYRA “A girl of the age of 5 is sitting at the dinner table trying to work on her homework while her mother is cooking dinner. The girl is having trouble trying to comprehend the directions written on her homework. Having no luck understanding how to complete the homework, she asks her mother for help, ‘?Mama, me puedes ayudar con mi tarea?’ (Mom, can you help me with my homework?) The mother attempts to help her with her homework but has trouble understanding the directions in English. ‘Perdon hija, no te puedo ayuar con tu tarea’ (Sorry daughter, I cannot help you with your homework) responds the mother very sadly, due to disappoint her daughter. The young girl looks at her mother while a tear rolls down her cheek, frightened with the idea of turning in incomplete homework once again.” This scene is frequently repeated in farmworker familiesas well as the lack of finances to help their children. Ofelia has a 4.2 GPA and is pursuing a major in Psychology.
DIANA JUAREZ “Life is not always easy, and it is not perfect either. My experience of growing up in a farm worker family has taught me many things. Nothing is free in life. In order to pursue your goals you must work hard for them. I always thought that hard jobs such as working in the fields were jobs for men. My mom however, proved me wrong. She has been working in the fields for many years. She is a really strong woman and someone whom I admire a lot. I had the opportunity to go to work with her . . . I got to see how hard my mom works and how dedicated she is. She is an amazing woman that goes through a lot just to provide the best for her family.” I plan to attend a community college and transfer to a UC and major in Business Management.”
CARLOS LEMUS “The obstacles that I have faced in my path through school and life have been the lack of role models and the ability to dream. In my early years of school I just followed the basic requirements that are necessary to pass the grade level. I would just follow the footsteps of my older siblings that were not taking good steps, since they too didn’t have a good role model in which they could ask questions, dream, or even have an idea of what they wanted to do with their future.” The hard life of farmworkers leaves little time, knowledge, and finances for parents to orient their children. Fortunately, Generation Green provided role models and sparked a passion within Carlos to pursue a major in environmental studies at California State University, Humboldt.
CRYSTAL MARTINEZ “My parents emigrated from Mexico to support our family of eight. They left behind their lives and families to ensure a brighter future for us. Since the day my parents arrived, they haven’t stopped working in the backbreaking labor of farm work. My father has worked many years in agriculture, and I have seen firsthand how difficult it is. Over the years I have seen my father grow weaker and weaker from this job that is slowly deterring him. This is why I have made it my personal goal to attend California State University Chico and pursue a career in social work. This is the way I would express my gratitude for all their sacrifices they made to ensure better lives for my siblings and me.”
ELIZABETH MENDOZA “Both of my parents have always been hardworking agricultural workers, but the true reality is that the money that they earn isn’t enough to support my three younger siblings - ages 12, 10, 5 and, now, me getting ready to attend college. I don’t want to be a burden on my parents; in fact, I want the total opposite of that. I want to provide for my family as much as I can, and if that means working two full time jobs a day, then so be it. Living in a Hispanic home is always hard seeing the type of labor that my parents do. I’ve personally worked out in the fields, too. I know what it’s like and I don’t want to do that for the rest of life. I want to earn a degree not only for myself, but also to make my parents proud.”
ANDREA RAMIREZ “When I see peaches, I see more than just an average fruit. I see my mother and father’s labor and toil, which makes me appreciate the fruit even more. Several times a week, I would wake up late at night to the sound of my mother coming home from work. I admire her for the long hours she put in. There were times when I would not see her a single time throughout the entire day. As a child, this took an emotional toll on me. At the time, I wanted nothing more than to just be with my mother and spend quality time with her. When she was present, she looked completely drained and exhausted. My parents became the encouragement that I need whenever I face a stump in the road. Although having farmworkers as parents comes at a cost, I am grateful they are because of the lessons of independence and determination that I have gained from them.”
MARVIN SANTOS “I live with my mother and twin brothers. Being born in Guatemala, a poor country, taught me to take advantage of all the opportunities that come my way. Neither of my parents attended college due to the lack of funds, and as a result they have to work in the fields. Field work is one of the worst jobs that a person can have. My mother works long hours with minimum wage to cover all the expenses of our house. Throughout the years I have seen her struggle to keep going on life. My educational goal is to study medicine. I want to go into this field of science because one of my greatest passions is helping others - to give my service and to make people feel better by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing.” Marvin is taking 5 Advanced Placement classes, earning all A’s, and so far has a 4.1 GPA.
MADERA HIGH SCHOOL
MARICELA CARLOS-ABARCA “Growing up with parents that are farmworkers is not easy because they work from five in the morning until three in the afternoon. I admire them because working in the fields is hard. The only time we had with them was one day out of the week. That day was used to go grocery shopping and wash clothes because we did not have a washer and dryer at our house. They would tell my siblings and me to go to school so we can have a better future. Getting this scholarship would benefit me because it will help me pay for college.”
VANESSA CERVANTES “Farm work is hard work and often one of the dirtiest jobs you can possibly get, yet that is all that is available without education. As a farm worker child, you often hear a lecture on the importance of education in life. My parents always say, ‘If you do not study and put your best effort towards school, the best job you can get is the same one I have now which is working in the fields.’ I always remember that phrase and put my best effort into school because I know that through education I cannot only give myself a better life but also my parents - and give my parents back everything they have done for me.” Vanessa applied to UC, Irvine and her major in Political Science. Her career goal is to become an attorney and work in criminal law.
ESMERALDA DURAN-MEDINA “I am the proud daughter of two Hispanic parents with a strong drive for education. My parents left everything behind in Mexico when coming to the U.S. to give us a better chance at a bright future for my sisters and me. My father is the only provider, and he worked the night shift in a dairy as long and hard as he needed to make sure we had everything we needed for the past twenty-eight years. Now he works in a better position in the day shift; he still works very hard to provide for us. With this JGFS scholarship, I hope to be a chemistry major to become a chemist and in some way help mankind or improve upon current findings. Only 2% of Latinas enter the STEM workforce and I am proud to become a part of it because of my parents’ effort.” Esmeralda will be attending California State University, Fresno.
JULIANA LEON “Growing up in a farm working family was, and still is, difficult. I think the hardest part about it is watching my dad exhaust himself at work to provide for his family. He works in extreme temperatures with no roof over his head. My father has to wake up at 5 in the morning so he can be on time for his job. He has also been physically injured while working, but the benefits of his job don’t offer a medical plan. I hope to attend UC Berkeley and obtain a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. After this, I wish to acquire a job working for a top technology company such as NASA, Google, or Boeing. Someday, I hope to acquire enough money to support my parents in their old age, so that they do not have to continue to physically exhaust themselves.”
MARIA ISABEL LOPEZ “Growing up in a low income family I have worked very hard throughout my life to succeed and be the first out of five in my family to head to college. At age 14, I started to work in the fields to help out with the bills and necessities. I remember having to fill up buckets of bell peppers and running on a narrow field to empty it out in the machine. My face was covered with a panuelo (handkerchief) in 100% weather to prevent sunburn. Time flew by slowly, and by 2:00 pm my handkerchiefs were soaked with my sweat. I had experienced the hard work my parents go through everyday. I don’t want to work in the fields for the rest of my life. Education is very important to me. I am one of the few students who actually looks forward to waking up early and going to school to learn something new. Without education I would not be able to achieve my goals.”
JOCELIN LOZA “My dad has been working in the fields for about 30 years and my mom for 10 years.” Jocelin was born in Mexico and when she started school she faced many struggles, language for one. But she says, “Even through those struggles I became the top student with good grades. I also did not have the same opportunity money wise and the help I know my parents wish they were able to give me, but seeing them get off work so tired made me work harder and pursue my dream to become a pediatric physical therapist.” Her parents motivate her not to give up her dreams, and she will always carry the words of her father, ‘Todo esto hago por su bien proque no quiero que pasen lo mismo que yo. ‘I do all this for your own good so you don’t have go through the same.’
ROSA MARIA MIRALES DIAZ “I’m Mexican from Guadalajara, Jalisco. I am part of a family of seven people, my parents and four siblings. When I was a kid, my father left us every six months to travel to the U.S. to work. I lived for 14 years in Mexico and honestly, I never thought to come to this country since I come from a humble family. When I came it was difficult for me because I did not speak or understand English. For the first years in high school I felt uncomfortable and misunderstood, but I put a lot of effort in school and tried to be successful and give my best to learn the English language. I’m not going to deny that it was difficult, because it was really hard. To be a member of a family where the majority work in the fields makes me want to succeed and not repeat the same cycle.” One of her teachers said, “Filled with grit, Rosa presses on, and one day she will become a dedicated primary teacher."
MARBELLA NUNEZ “My father has been a farmworker for a dairy for twenty-six years. Before that, he worked harvesting grapes, almonds, as well as cutting and tying vines. At the dairy my father works from three in the morning to sometimes until eight at night. Every day he puts his heart into his work with little pay, not enough benefits, and poor working conditions. I witnessed my father struggle to wake up every morning, feeling more tired than the day before. It pains me to see him fight off sleep every day. Because of this, I am passionate about becoming a nurse and pursing higher education to get a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, and eventually a Doctorate’s degree. I want to be able to help other farm working families in my community and make a difference.”
LILIANA ROSALES “I have immense respect for my parents for being farmworkers because even though it is not a ‘high status’ ideal career, they do what they can to provide for our family. They have worked under blazing summers and frigid winters to give us the chance to educate ourselves. Their sacrifices have become the ultimate motivation factors that push me forward when I feel frustrated with school. Being the oldest in my family has had a huge impact on my role as a leader. My mother has always trusted and believed in my ability to take care and guide my younger siblings. The medical field has continuously sparked my interest. I want to become a doctor and show my family that we can evolve from agricultural jobs to a health care profession, regardless of our obstacles or circumstances.”
CRISTAL SALGADO-GUZMAN “Coming to the U.S. was hard for my parents since they did not have anyone to support them. With their mind set they were able to become residents and inspire their children to pursue higher education. My parents have been farm laborers ever since they came to and stayed in California, because this is where there are varieties of farm work. Being a first generation is an amazing feeling because my siblings will value my accomplishments and lean towards following my steps in order to be successful. I plan to attend Fresno City College and pursue a career as Pediatric Nurse; and am looking forward to earn a Bachelor’s in Science in nursing. “
DIEGO VEGA “I am one of nine children in my family. I have watched my parents struggle to provide all the necessary things for every one of us. My parents are hardworking people, however, they did not have the privilege of getting a good education. It is challenging to obtain a higher education when one comes from a low income rural family. Coming from a family that mostly speaks Mixteco, an indigenous language, and little Spanish is very difficult. Learning English was the most difficult. Everyone in my family works in the coldest winters and hottest summers just to provide our family’s most essential needs. Due to the lack of jobs in the Central Valley, we have to migrate to Oregon and Washington every summer to pick fruits just to make it through the year financially. I have found an interest in mathematics and history, two subjects I am excelling in. My future career goal is to become a civil engineer so that children and others can live in a safer and healthier environment.”