Let Your Voice Be Heard

The Texas Story Project.

Many people with power and good standing with the government push for reform to help people with voices that are hardly ever heard.

These people with muted voices are often discouraged because they don't believe they themselves can make much of an impact. It takes so much effort and intelligence to achieve something even as small as spreading the idea of reform. However, it is very much possible for one everyday citizen to speak out and take an idea directly to the top. How could a single person make an impact on an entire state? Well, I'll tell you how a long-time resident of El Paso, TX, my mother, Alfia Chacon, did it. 

Whenever I ask my mother about how she grew up, the stories are always rough. When she was only 16 years old, she was put into the foster care system due to the turmoil she faced within her family. She was moved from home to home and city to city. "You never knew if you were going to be put with good or not so good foster parents or even where you would end up," she said.

Despite the hardships she had, my mother always worked hard in school and dreamed of pursing a professional career. With this in mind, however, she knew it would be difficult to pay for college and all the expenses that came with it. Soon enough, she started writing. She knew she had to let her voice be heard and possibly help others who didn’t even think obtaining a college degree was possible.

Determined, Alfia wrote a letter to Congress, detailing her concerns about both adopted children and children in the foster care system. “If we were in the custody of the government, if they were acting as our 'parents', then why couldn't they pay for our education like any other parents would?" she said. Her view of this can be related to how any other person in foster care would feel, and in her letter, she said exactly that.

Soon after the letter was written, she received a letter in the mail from then Congressman George W. Bush, thanking her for her letter and notifying her that a Texas bill was passed. This bill stated that the government would cover the costs of college tuition for children in the foster care system and adopted children. The letter that she wrote to Congress was also displayed in the governor’s office where it can still be seen today.

The story of Alfia Chacon shows how much of an impact just one person with the right mindset, passion, and drive can do for so many others. Even through the twists and turns of her childhood and the immense amount of uncertainty she faced, she rose up and spoke for something she truly believed could make an impact. Children across Texas can now receive a higher education without having to worry about costs that they would not be able to handle on their own. This is what I call “a Texas story.”

Sarah D. Díaz is an undergraduate student at St. Mary’s University studying psychology. She anticipates going on to graduate school to pursue a career in neuropsychology. She is originally from El Paso, TX, but now calls San Antonio her second home. The various stories about ordinary Texans have motivated and encouraged her to let the stories of many others be heard as well.

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