A picture of my grandparents, who are migrant workers from Mexicali B.C., Mexico, is mounted on our living room wall. The creases on their tan faces exudes the hard agriculture field work performed under the blazing sun of the Imperial Valley Desert in Southern California. Although my Spanish is not very fluent, through the tone of their voices, I feel their love, when we communicate with each other. Their resilience and work ethic were instilled into my father and then into me. I have been working a part-time job, since the day I turned sixteen.

My uncle Martin’s picture hangs on the hallway leading into the kitchen. He passed away ten years ago at the age of forty-two due to a combination of diabetes, Hepatitis C and alcoholism. My father was distraught because we couldn’t afford to attend the funeral. The family gathered together and collected enough money, so my father, mother and I could fly down to Mexicali B.C., Mexico and attend the funeral. Family will always be there for you no matter what challenges life throws at you.

Pictures of my mother and father lovingly holding and kissing me are framed and affixed to walls throughout my home. They provide memories and proof of a strong and loving foundation. My parents have always told me I could be whoever I wanted to be, when I grew up. Family support has always been apparent. I would not be the person I am today without the positive influence they have provided.

The pictures you won’t see on our walls, but only in Facebook photo albums, are the pictures of both my parents together; they divorced when I was ten years old. From their experience I learned balancing work, school and life is near impossible. Life is unpredictable and you cannot balance the unpredictable but I what I can do is plan, prepare and hope for the best. Hardships in life are meant to be a learning experience. In my short life, I have learned to do my best, to work hard and to never give up.

I am an eighteen-year-old Hispanic female and first generation natural born American citizen, who refuses to be defined by her low socioeconomic status—I will graduate from Timberline High School with my High School diploma and an Associate in Business Transfer degree from South Puget Sound Community College. The pictures on the walls, in my home, help tell the story of my family’s values and support, which fuels my desire to be happy, positive and successful.