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Majoring in Linguistics and Latin American Studies to forge a link to family and cultural legacy

Mateo 250Like any commitment to a certain profession or goal, there is an intricate matrix of factors that lead up to a definitive decision. My family and I emigrated from Colombia to Denver, Colorado when I was five. My parents wanted the best for the future of their three kids, and they did not see it in the turbulent and violent conditions that pervaded Colombian society at the time. The land of opportunity received us promisingly, but it had its price; this decision implied hard work, adaptation, and severing family and cultural ties.

In my adolescent years, I had reached a point where I could not communicate meaningfully or intellectually with my parents in our native language of Spanish. A piercing sensation of emptiness struck me as I realized this, but this was also a pivotal point in my life. I yearned to develop and use the Spanish that I had never known. For the last two years of high school, I immersed my mind in my desires to define my identity and to forge a link to my family and cultural legacy that I felt was at stake. Little did I know, this personal goal aligned with that of an undergraduate career in Linguistics and Latin American Studies.

At first, I believed linguistics was a field of study for languages, particularly language acquisition. I declared a major in this field based off of my experience of learning Spanish late in my life. Now I am aware that the career entails much more; it is a manner of studying all human languages through a scientific lens. From the most basic levels of analysis of the anatomical components that humans possess for articulation to the higher levels of philosophical and universal theory, linguistics enchanted me from the very start of my career. This major paired harmoniously with my interests in learning about Latin America; learning about the culture and history that my childhood and adolescence were secluded from. I declared a second major in Latin American Studies envisioning how both majors complement each other in the field of humanities studies.

A major obstacle that I first confronted was defining my identity, an essential component for my personal and professional development, for nothing can grow from a weak foundation. Once enrolled at the University of New Mexico, many economic and academic obstacles also presented themselves, but I countered these challenges through disciplined study and several part-time jobs.

Receiving my bachelor’s degree in these two majors signifies not only the start of a very fulfilling personal goal, but also bringing my parents’ dream to fruition. I highly esteem the value of legacy forged through hard and honest work, a value that my parents instilled in my mind and heart. My academic endeavors align with my personal ones; a combination of factors that I hope will guide me to a fulfilling professional career. This one may not imply a very stable economic future, but it is one that I deem with intellectual, cultural, and humanistic value.

We are proud to announce Mateo Rocha is one of the current LatPro Scholarship finalists. Vote for his essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

LatPro Admin


16 comments

  • with his bi-cultural background, and his determination to build on the very personal experiences of this background, Mateo is well positioned to make great contributions to the academic subject he has chosen. I am very much looking forward to the achievements that he will produce!

    • I feel with this essay from mateo that he is a young boy running and challenging to award his dreams and he show me his conviction of what he really wants for going forward in his life he wont make nobody loose their time because he really is going for his goals.

  • Very well written essay, from the heart, and a great reflection of what the daughters and sons of immigrants go through as they live in our wonderful USA and embrace the legacy of their parents. Mateo keep up the good work and GOD bless you, a wonderful future!

  • Compañero Mateo, gracias por esa perxistencia, per existir o persistir
    en los encuentros inacabados, a los que por el orden de tus deseos te
    conducen a abrir camino, abrir tu mano, abrir pulmón, abrir la red de
    esperanza.
    Me gustó mucho tener mi primer contacto con la palabra Fruición (fruition), gracias.

    Estas frases siguientes, no me sentí tan cómodo al interpretarlas, desde luego una vez
    traducidas: “for nothing can grow from a weak foundation-pues nada puede
    crecer a partir de una base débil”. Por el orden de ideas, sonó un poco
    excluyente, teniendo encuenta que está complejidad de lo concreto,
    recae en un análisis de los medios por los donde circula la razón, lo
    objetivo, que excluye a tal punto al Otro “sin la base fuerte”, que lo
    enajena de su propio don-habilidad, aún desconocida.

    Hay otras
    frases que no brindan la posiblidad al quiebre, y me resuenan tanto,
    como llevan un mensaje de estructuración “casí” estable….. junte ideas
    locas de sus palabras. Muchas ganas, ánimo!!!

  • A beautifully written piece, exemplifying assimilation in its entirety and even more, transforming it into a deeper, more sincere meaning from such infectious enlightenment that Rocha is well known to possess. Assimilation is a term that holds somewhat of a negative connotation here in the West. A term that is known to diminish culture by cutting strong lineage roots out from underneath . Which then creates that ‘weakened foundation from which nothing is able to grow,’ as Mateo beautifully stated. Leaving several lost of culture and Identity. Mateo took that negative connotation and that weak foundation, transforming them into a positively strong and sound base for which he can grow and build upon. Not just Finding himself in the process of perseverance, but ultimately enlightening and helping others along the way of his journey, leaving no stone unturned.
    You will move mountains Mateo 🙂

  • Mateo es un excelente candidato para la carrera que ha escogido cursar. Su visión como una persona lingüística y culturalmente bilingüe sin duda alguna enriquecerá el alumnado de su centro. Me emociona leer las palabras de Mateo, ya que en mi propio trabajo a diario me encuentro con adolescentes inmigrantes que enfrentan ese conflicto de identidad. La aportación que Mateo puede contribuir como ya he mencionado anteriormente a cualquier departamento de lingüística es invaluable desde mi punto de vista. Mateo, independientemente del centro donde acabes estudiando, sé con certeza que vas a lograr todo lo que te propongas por el tesón y la pasión que pones en todo lo que haces. Mis mejores deseos de todo corazón.

  • El anhelo más profundo del corazón de un padre es ver a su hijo triunfar en la vida. Sin embargo cuántos de nosotros reconocemos que el camino más directo hacia el éxito es a través de la Fe y la Esperanza en el Ser Supremo que nos guía. En nuestra sociedad generalmente no nos percatamos de esa conexión. Todo lo contrario: enseñamos a nuestros hijos a sobrevivir antes que a vivir, Mateo es esa persona que está aprendiendo a vivir de manera autentica y natural; a asumir cierto comportamientos para obtener la aprobación social antes que entender la sociedad, la actitud que Mateo está asumiendo desde que ha tenido uso de razón y sin ir en contravía a las normas sociales es compartir la alegría y la sensatez de su vida; a defenderse antes que actuar, el es precisamente aquella persona que actúa con sinceridad y respeto y con algo de ingenuidad en todo lo que se propone; a competir antes que a trabajar en equipo, Mateo es quien por naturaleza se siente más feliz dando que recibiendo.

    No voy a decir que Mateo es el mejor y más apropiado candidato, porque al igual que él, todos los demás participantes tiene las condiciones sociales, académicas e intelectuales que los ameritan; pero en la visión general del objetivo, Mateo al estar desarrollando un programa educativo que preserva y fomenta la existencia de la forma mas elemental de comunicación entre los pueblos de la humanidad como son las diferentes lenguas si puedo decir que él, con esa capacidad de amar que tiene, de sentir la compasión social, la alegría contagiante a los demás, y la seguridad que tiene en su propósito de ver el significado de la vida en forma más simple, es un firme candidato. Exitos Mateo

  • Mateo you have been blessed with a generous and giving heart. Your hard work, hummbleness and dedication make you a deserving candidate for this scholarship good Luck!! Love You Forever 🙂
    I am attaching comments that friends have posted on my facebook wishing youthe best:

    Great job!!!!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 1:38am
    Maria Melva Ortega Mateo felicitaciones. Excelente trabajo. Me llama la atención que eres muy joven y expresas tu sentir con una profundidad admirable. Que bendición que sepas aprovechar el tiempo, y con seguridad vas a llegar muy lejos. Me emociona sentir que un hijo …See More
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 6:10am
    Josefita Lopez-khosravi Nice piece of writing. I can see your passion for family.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 6:58am
    Hernando Riveros Mateo excellent ya sabes que lo que sea pa eso estamos!!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 1:31pm · Edited
    Zamira Melendez Gates Mateo, you essay is very important for families starting a new life in a foreign country. I wish they read you great experience and learn from you and from your parents. I hope in the future many people will follow your ideas and your thoughts. So you have a huge mission Mateo! Make others dreams come true!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 8:56am
    Nayhibe Rocha Chawez Excelente felicitaciones me siento muy orgullosa, estoy segura que vas a ganar la beca. Te mando un abrazo muy fuerte de positivismo y fe en Dios
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 9:05am
    Ekremm Rocha Godo job sigue Dandole para adelante felicitaciones
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 9:21am
    Lizeth Katerine Tinoco Navarro Very enriching and inspired, surely the scholarship is yours…you are amazing!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 9:39am
    Nora Barrera Very well written essay, from the heart, and a great reflection of what the daughters and sons of immigrants go through as they live in our wonderful USA and embrace the legacy of their parents. Mateo keep up the good work and GOD bless you, a wonderful future!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 10:09am
    Nora Barrera Keep on making us proud!!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 10:10am
    Mariangela Trujillo Rosati Mateo, I admire the intense desire for connection with your heritage. Your passion is engrossing and will bring you many rewards as you are already creating your own legacy. Keep taking the path you have chosen and soon you will achieve your goals beyond any monetary compensation.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 7:54pm
    Monica Blasche Mateo: No te conozco , pero si a tu mamá, la cual quiero muchisimo!!!Te felicito por ese escrito!!! y espero que te ganes esa beca!!! Muchos éxitos
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 20 at 8:47pm
    Jenny Rocha Yo se que con las Bendiciones de Dios logra esa beca porque eres muy inteligente y un hijo exepcional
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 21 at 8:50am
    Olhynda Rocha Excelente escrito, te deseo mucha suerte
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 21 at 10:27am
    Jackie Canavan Congratulations Mateo. A great essay & well written. I’m an Irish immigrant myself & we are all blessed to have this great opportunity to live in this great country & beautiful state of Colorado. Mateo you are blessed to have such wonderful parents & who are a reflection onto you. Good luck
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 21 at 3:39pm
    Jorge Manuel Sanchez Mateito
    La enseñanza, ejemplo y sensibilidad transmitida a ti y a tus hermanos por tus fantásticos padres, son el reflejo de eso que nos transmites en tu escrito.
    Claro que te mereces cosas maravillosas en tu vida y en tus estudios …See More
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · June 21 at 9:41pm
    Martha Cecilia Salazar HOLA MATEO, ME ENCANTA VER UN MUCHACHO CON GANAS DE SALIR ADELANTE,Y TU TIENES LA MADERA Y FUERZA PARA CONSEGUIR LO QUE QUIERES. DIOS TE ACOMPAÑE.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · 7 hrs

  • Mateo, te felicito por el ensayo que rico es saber que a pesar de llevar 16 años fuera de Colombia y no recordar bien el español, has buscado la forma de estudiarlo y recordar como bien tu lo dices tu legado. Te deseo muchos éxitos en tu vida profesional, saludos a todos en casa.

  • This wonderful written piece makes me proud as a Latina to know how you made the right decision to be more involved with your culture, your roots and how you wish to see our beautiful culture remain in your mind and heart. I wish all the young people who are immigrants or children of immigrants to have the same perspective and perseverance that you have. Certainly you have a bright future in the field of linguistics.

    Excelente redacción. Esta pieza maravillosa me llena de orgullo como latina al conocer la acertada decisión que tomaste de estar más involucrado con tu cultura, tus raíces y como tu deseo de que nuestra linda cultura permanezca en tu mente y corazón. Desearía que todos los jóvenes que son inmigrantes o hijos de inmigrantes tuvieran la misma perspectiva y perseverancia que tú tienes. Sin duda alguna tienes un
    futuro brillante en el campo de la lingüística.

  • Mateo is colombian than anyone in the country and its amazing because he left the country very young.
    One teacher told me once: ” if you don’t know your origin, you don’t know who you are” . I consider that he found himself inside his culture and language while being in a totally different culture. This shows his force, skills and intelligence. I consider that he deserves this scholarship more than anyone in order for him to continue developing his forté.

  • Mateo, I admire the intense desire for connection with your heritage. Your passion is engrossing and will bring you many rewards as you are already creating your own legacy. Keep taking the path you have chosen and soon you will achieve your goals beyond any monetary compensation.