I was born in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. I am one of five children. When my parents decided to move to the United States, it was due to our living circumstances.
My parents’ priority was ensuring that we, their children, would have a better education and a better childhood—one of the biggest sacrifices they have ever made. We arrived to Colorado on Christmas Eve of 1998 when I was four years old. I often think of that time as the time I was reborn—the time my future had begun to write itself.
Sometime after we arrived to Colorado, we experienced homelessness—despite my mom’s hard work and determination, the income she received wasn’t enough to keep paying rent for an apartment. It almost seems like homelessness was a witness to the way we lived. My mother experienced the hardships of a single mother, struggling to have quality time with her children while working two jobs, and at times, three jobs. I remember there were days we didn’t see her at all because she went to work before we woke up and came home when we were sleeping. Those nights, I used to wish that sleep wouldn’t win me over so that I could stay up until she arrived.
The only way that felt right to thank my mom for her hard work and sacrifice was to help take care of our household and to make sure that my grades were impeccable. I graduated from Denver East High School May 2012, and I am now a student at the University of Colorado at Denver with hopes of becoming a great psychiatrist. I received my permanent residency December of 2012—the first out of my family to obtain permanent residency.
The sacrifices made to have a better life continue to be a struggle. The worry of my mother and siblings getting deported has become a feature of my daily routine; the worry of seeing them return to the life that we left fourteen years ago, and leaving the life that remains ten times better than the life we lived then. The fourteen years we have lived in the United States will never be erased.
Karen Vazquez is a pre-med student at the University of Colorado and an apprentice at the competitive Issachar Center for Urban Leadership in Denver, CO. She aspires to become a doctor in order to help heal others created in the image of God.
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