Interestingly, CU Boulder was not one of my top university choices. Why would I choose CU Boulder if I was not able to speak English in the first place? It would be ironic. Don’t you think? Imagine, a fourteen-year-old newcomer from Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico with the audacity to take part in what some people refer to as “the American dream.” Additionally, I could not even speak the dominant language, English. My name is Jonathan Guadalupe Delgado Sanchez and I am a senior at CU Boulder with a double major in Sociology and Spanish and a double minor in Ethnic Studies and Business. I am also pursuing my teaching licensure in Secondary Spanish Teaching Licensure.
Arriving to the United States and not being able to speak English made it challenging to navigate the cultural and educational systems. I was not aware of all the financial and academic supports that the university offers to culturally and linguistically diverse students. Also, I wasn’t sure if I was “college material.” But, let me tell you this, you will never know unless you try. With the support of my family, friends and teachers I felt obligated to at least try. With my trusted confidants and a pencil and paper, I began to write. I started reading and writing as if there was no tomorrow, digesting different study patterns as if they were my morning and evening meals. In my senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to help people, and that I wanted to be an immigration lawyer, but learned I needed a bachelor’s degree in order to attend law school.
That is when CU Boulder came into the picture. My civics teacher suggested I apply to CU Boulder, but I knew I could not afford it. To be honest, my first reaction was “No way, my friend!” I felt discouraged, but through the constant help of financial aid workshops, counselors from my high school, and the financial aid staff at CU, I learned it was possible. There are many financial and academic opportunities for underrepresented students at CU Boulder. So, I applied, and was accepted.
As a freshman, I met Cecilia Valenzuela, from the School of Education, and she referred me to the BUENO Center, a Center for Multicultural Education in the School. They offered me a work-study position, and I have been working for them ever since. From that moment, my life started to snowball and many good things have happened. I became involved with McNeill Academic Program (MAP), the Miramontes Arts & Science Program (MASP), Education Diversity Scholars (EDS), and First Generation Scholars on campus. Each of these programs offered me financial aid, workshops, a cohesive social network and other support. CU Boulder is an environment that embraces social change, and encourages students to be a part of that movement. One of the opportunities I was offered was to become an instructor’s assistant with MAP, and a trip to the Dominican Republic to expand my own cross-cultural awareness. I was encouraged to conduct an honors thesis that focused on immigrant communities living in the United States. The support I have received to complete this project has been significant.
Thanks to my teacher licensure and personal educational experience, I have come to understand that a teacher is not just an authority figure, but one who nurtures hope where it is needed the most in the student. Education allows students to feel hopeful about the future. When a student feels that there is a person who cares about them, and recognizes their existence, then that individual will be inspired to look beyond social limitations that may exist because of their race, sexual orientation, gender, class, etc. That is why, if you have the desire to come to CU Boulder, do not let any social limitation impede your pursuits. Hope is situated in the context of the moment, and is created based on a set of actions, not just dreams. It is time to manifest your dreams by acting upon them.
Sociology and Spanish, 2017