“I am a first-generation college student and identify as a Peruvian indigenous woman. I grew up in Peru until my family decided to immigrate to the United States when I was 9 years old. Being born in Peru during the 1990s meant holding onto the memories that echoed from the turmoil of the political and economic struggles of the country.
Starting a life in the U.S. was difficult for our family since our undocumented status filled our lives with uncertainty. My mother had already been suffering from rheumatic arthritis for more than 15 years when she was faced with the challenge of raising two daughters on her own without knowing how to drive, how to speak English and without having the adequate education to defend herself economically. It was a hard transition for us, but we dedicated ourselves to endure our situation with the aspiration that our sacrifice would give us the opportunity to pursue a better education.
The first time I met others who had undocumented status and were experiencing hardships due to their status was when I enrolled at the University of Utah. The university provided me with an instant student community who was also first-generation and from underrepresented backgrounds. During my first year at the U, I became involved with the student organization of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A.). Being part of M.E.Ch.A. has encouraged my desire to live socially conscious by striving for equity and social justice, particularly for historically marginalized groups in the country, and to promote education through a critical lens.
My involvement with this student group has also empowered me to pursue a career as a professional educator in the state of Utah. Being a first-generation immigrant, a former undocumented student and a woman of color have given me unique insights into how schools can be improved for students who face similar struggles. Given my experiences throughout school, I have devoted myself to do all I can to learn different strategies to support disenfranchised students and create supportive yet challenging learning environments for my future students.”
— Glenda Palomino, Education student