Seven years ago, I was a very proud community college student majoring in Communication and Business. My plan was to transfer to Loyola Marymount University. However, in the blink of an eye, my life changed forever. The train to success that I had been riding on became derailed and left to rust and wither away. To date, it has been over six years and four months now since I have heard my youngest son’s voice call out to me. Without a trace, my son vanished while in the care of his father. Before my son’s disappearance, I loved to sport the latest name brands. I would save for months just to make these labels a part of my wardrobe. However, currently, I sport around a whole new kind of label. I didn’t save for this label, nor was it gifted to me, and yet, it remains affixed to me. I cannot remove this label no matter how hard I’ve tried. So, I decided to continue to live with this new label; love with this new label, and slowly pull myself back onto the train that I once rode.
My first mission was to enroll myself back into college. I gathered all the necessary forms to enroll into the fall 2019 term at Antelope Valley college. While completing my studies, I heard about the study abroad program my institution was offering. I signed up for an informational workshop that would discuss all the details and requirements of the study abroad program. By the end of the workshop, I was not sure if I was eligible to study abroad, since I was attempting to take my four-year-old child with me. After, presenting a slew of questions to the study abroad coordinator, I was told for my child to go with me, I had to jump over a vast number of hurdles; so, I jumped. It was very important for me to show my daughter that if you are determined enough, anything is possible.
During the study abroad workshops, I learned just how much it would cost for the both of us to travel to, and temporarily live in Spain for three months. The figures were discouraging, but I knew with determination, I could make it happen. I began to search for financial assistance to help me with the costs. I learned of the Gilman scholarship via my study abroad coordinator at Antelope Valley college, but the Funds for Education Abroad scholarship was found by perusing scholarship cites online. I wrote essays for both, and I won them both. We are here now in our host country. My daughter witnessed the determination that it took to get here, and she is witnessing the determination and endurance that her mother possesses for me to have my program adviser allow my child to be fully inclusive on all excursions. I realize that this battle may have begun with me, however, it will not end with me.
Living in Spain has not only made me think outside of the box in order to maintain consistent structure and normalcy for my child, but it has taught me how to win battles with education instead of ignorance and empty words. Spain has armed me with a whole new set of ammunition that I wish to pass on to my young child. Living in Spain has also taught me how to remain calm in the mist of storms, racial barriers, and gender restrictions that I have found myself temporarily engulfed in. My daughter, stems from a line of individuals that removed all sorts of barriers from their path. I find it my duty in life to teach my young child that you can get back up and excel, even when barriers placed before you make it appear as if you cannot.