I came to the US with my mother many years ago in search of a better life. My mother was desperate to get us away from my father's kidnapper. To be clear, my father was taken captive a couple months before my birth by the Colombian Guerrilla. This is not uncommon in Colombia. People have learned to live in fear. In any case, these people have a tendency to come back for the remaining family of the captive. Usually to try and extort money from them. So we just had to get away. My mother had heard stories of a land with safety and equality. So, we took all the necessary steps to come to the US. At first, it was a struggle. Coming to a new country, where everything was unknown. We didn't understand the language, we didn't know anyone. Regardless, it was the best choice my mother ever made for us.
When I was younger college didn't even seem like an option to me, we were the kind of middle-class that lives paycheck to paycheck. I constantly saw my mother struggle to put food on the table for us but she always pulled through. As soon as I turned sixteen, my number one priority was finding a job to help my mother as much as I could. Things began to look up after that. I began to see that so many things were possible with hard work and perseverance. So, I gave my all in everything that I did and I began to see results. I graduated high school with a 3.7 GPA, a part-time job, and was able to get a federal grant that allowed me to go to college without student loans (which I couldn't afford).
Today, our lives are so different. It feels surreal to think about that past. I am now finishing up an AA in Psychology, I speak three languages, I'm part of an honors society, and I intend to get my masters in counseling. So many good things are possible in this life if we just dare to dream and persevere no matter what our pasts.
-Laura Maria Vivas Vallejo