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Erica Fernández

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Erica Fernández

Undergraduate Major in Iberian and Latin American Cultures

Eleven years ago, the idea of graduat- ing from one of the most prestigious universities in the world would never have crossed my mind, as I was living in a small impoverished town in Michoacán, Mexico. Education was not a priority and working at a young age was the only key to survival. Because we lived with really scarce resources, it was essential for my parents, five siblings, and me to live day by day, not really thinking about the future. Our dreams faded since there were no other opportunities but coming to El Norte, to the United States, which allowed me to dream of a better life for my family and myself. When we left my town we did not know what was ahead of us!

Five years later, because of financial and other unexpected circumstances my parents were forced to move to a cheaper area, and through a series of sacrifices both my parents and I were forced to make the fateful decision for me to branch out and leave my house at 15 to pursue an education. Education had always seemed unreachable to us, but it was necessary to escape from our continuous struggles as recent monolin- gual Spanish-speaking immigrants. I never thought that my life was going to completely change. I never thought that my familial and cultural expecta- tions to become a young housewife were going to change into my being someone graduating from Stanford University on June 17, 2012.

Even in my earliest childhood memories, I had been working hard, and these last four years have not been easy. However, although my parents did not teach me how to solve a math problem or answer an essay question, they taught me to never give up and to lift myself every time I fail. Thanks to those life lessons I was able to get through the demands of being a Stanford student.

I could not have achieved anything if it were not for everyone who supported me along the way, who has believed in me. To those professors, TAs, tutors, counselors, RAs, and Stanford employees that help run Stanford, especially the janitors and those amazing cafeteria workers—I thank them for their dedication and their willingness to help.

I will never be able to express how much I have learned, and how much I have developed as a student, researcher, analytical thinker, leader, friend and more importantly, a compassionate human being through all of the opportunities that Stanford has been able to offer. ¡Si se pudo!