The Texas Story Project.
The year is 1974, my mom, Erika Trevino, had stepped on United States soil for the first time at two years old. As a little girl, she did not know what the future would hold for someone who just spoke Spanish and knew nothing about this foreign country. As time traveled along she began grade school. It was unusual for a city to offer Spanish-speaking classes in elementary, but El Paso did just that. The border town was known for having many Spanish-speaking citizens, so Erika fit right in.
Life in Texas was amazing for Erika. At this time, she was hanging with kids with whom she was able to communicate and had similarities. When she was in 3rd grade, the school offered ESL classes to those who spoke only Spanish and by 7th grade, Erika was fluent in English. By the time Erika had reached 9th grade, she would experience something she has never experienced before… discrimination.
When Erika was sent down to Hondo, Texas she was barely going to begin the next level of schooling so they enrolled her in Hondo High School. What was peculiar about this town was that it was smaller than El Paso, and it had the exact description of a small Texas town. Everyone knew each other, everyone knew what was going on in the community, and everyone showed favoritism to the Anglo Americans. My mom went through high school being discriminated against. Her counselor knew her background and knew where she came from, and he had pushed her away from success. A counselor who knew everything there was to the next step in college had never shared any information with Erika. She said, “My counselor knew my background and knew what requirements I needed for college, yet he never shared that with me, I was blind and didn’t know why I was still in school… I had no one to go to for help… I felt alone”. The counselor had told her that she was not going to succeed. It was unheard of in this town for a Spanish-speaking woman to actually attend college so they treated it as just that. Throughout high school, Erika was discriminated against in classes, sports, and around the town. This wouldn’t stop her, she had a plan and dream for her future and she did not let up one bit.
After graduation, Erika had traveled to San Antonio in hopes of a better life. In San Antonio, she looked for any place of work, and for a while, she was living with different families in all different kinds of homes or apartments. It wasn’t until she came into contact with “Project Quest” which would change her life forever. In this program, they offer help with tuition, housing, clothes, and much more. With this program Erika was able to do the impossible—she attended college. Erika would be the first person to attend a college in our family. In the span of 1992-2003, Erika had 4 kids and still managed to not only become an LVN, she surpassed that and became an RN, then ADON for a nursing home and now a case manager for a hospice company. Erika had done what she was born for and that was to succeed.
Regardless of the fact that Erika wasn’t born in Texas, this state had shaped her into the hardworking woman she is today. Without going through amazing times in a big city and rough times in a small town, Erika wouldn’t have wanted to experience Texas in any other way. Discrimination and favoritism showed her that she can accomplish anything as long as she works hard for it. Although Erika was from Mexico and faced a tremendous number of roadblocks, she never gave up. She always worked on improving to be the best person. She faced things that could’ve turned her in the wrong direction. But she had one goal and one mission: she wanted to show her kids that anything is possible even when faced with adversity.
Jakob Trevino is a sophomore at St. Mary’s University studying Political Science in hopes to go to law school and become an Immigration Attorney. Currently, he spends most of his days at school, or at his job, H-E-B where he helps customers find what they need in the bakery. And when he is off from both, he tries to find ways to help him become a better person than he was yesterday, whether it's in fitness or helping around the house.
Posted October 11, 2018