For my father, keeping the dream alive

By Ana Aguilar
the Southern High School’s Spartan Scoop

With one more year of high school left,  I find myself thinking a lot about what college I will attend.

As I was growing up, my mother would talk to me about how important attending college is in order to become someone in life.

Southern High School senior Ana Aguilar, editor of the Southern Scoop

She often tells me, “I didn’t have the option to even get to high school, but you have no option but to go to college.”

This has always been in my mind. The only difference is that until after going on a college tour this past spring, I have never been so motivated to make my dream come true.

Southern High School offered a college tour that gave about 20 students, including myself, the opportunity to visit seven colleges in the Washington, DC and Virginia area. This trip was beneficial in many ways.

With a current student as a guide, we had the chance to experience what life is like on campus. We enjoyed meals in the cafeterias and visited gyms and classrooms while students were in session.

Talking to current students excluded “sweet talk” and brought reality to my ears. Although to some degree, our student guides were trying to persuade us into attending their school, by sharing their personal experiences as college freshmen, it created a less biased persuasion.

What grabbed my attention most was seeing so many Latinos enrolled in college. I had no doubt that Latinos were capable of enrolling in schools like Old Dominion, Virginia Common Wealth or George Mason, but what surprised me was that many of these Latinos were DREAMers — an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.

The DREAMers are those who meet the criteria to be eligible for the Obama Administration’s two-year “deferred action.”

The basic criteria consists of undocumented young people not having been convicted of a felony, having entered the United States before the age of sixteen, living continuously in America for at least five years and be currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military.

Seeing these DREAMers only proved to me that becoming a college student for anyone in this country is not easy but it is not impossible either.

I lost my father some time ago, but he is still with me in spirit today.

I remember when the clock would hit 4 p.m. and I would sometimes be intentionally sitting in front of my computer and concentrating, waiting for his keys to open the door.

When he would finally pass the living room, he would just stare at me while I was working. I never questioned him.

One day, while we were dining, my father said to my mother, “She is going to get us out of this poverty.”

“She’s just going to sit behind a desk and not struggle as much to earn a dollar, like we do,” I remember him saying.

He had huge expectations for me, and the last thing I want to do is fail one of the persons who may have overestimated me. This college tour opened my eyes to a world I want to be part of.

It left me with no other option but to prove to all those who don’t believe in me that I will become a college graduate and sit behind a desk like my father said he wanted to see.