LatPro.com’s scholarship program for Hispanic students is proud to announce Olivia Rodriguez as one of the three finalists for its December deadline application. Vote for her essay by clicking the thumbs up button at the bottom of the page, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.
Olivia Rodriguez‘s Essay:
How did you choose your major? What obstacles have you had to overcome and what will it mean to you to graduate with this degree?
I live in a trailer in Thermal CA. My parents, whom are agricultural workers, suffer from sickness due to fields infested with pesticides and chemicals. To me it’s upsetting that they’re allowed to work under these conditions and that a trip to the doctors’ for themselves comes in as last priority. Seeing their bodies decay every year is my motivation to continue my education so that I can come back and help rid of the toxic working environment that leads to health problems. I want to be part of the movement that has been part of my people throughout history. I desire to free them of harsh conditions of labor. And I believe that by changing the toxic environment that they’re exposed to, it’ll be a way to lessen their health problems. As a result, they will not have to spend most of their paychecks on medicine and unaffordable healthcare. To have an impact that will reduce the exploitation of underrepresented communities is my purpose of completing a major in Conservation and Resource Studies.
Throughout my life, I’ve had to see my mom sick, with her eyes red and irritated, a cough that seems to never leave her, and her body aching in pain. My sister, dad, and myself have constantly insisted that she go to the doctor and time after time we have hear “no” from her. Her mentality is to care for the family first and medical attention has simply become another benefit that my dad and her have been deprived of.
As a quiet girl, I’ve reflected on why this was the case. Why where my parents and many other migrant workers under a life that had limited them from something so necessary as medical attention. Did the lack of the English language allow them to be tied down in minimum wage jobs? I’ve heard of American people without the Spanish tongue, who cross the border with ease to Mexico. Instead of working, most seem to be on vacation. And on this side of the border I can’t stand the sight of seeing my parents and other workers in jobs that offer toxic environments when they too have the right to fulfill their goals and attain success. However, what gives me hope is the history I’ve heard of powerful voices like Cesar Chavez and the Chicano movement that have made changes in my community.
My working class background as the daughter of migrant farm workers in the Eastern Coachella Valley carries with it a history of silence. Mexicans, and Mexican Americans have been historically silenced in U.S. history and have had to fight for the right to be heard, even though they have played a vital role in the growth of our nation through labor work. Our voices have been shut down, especially the Latina women, whom are negatively represented by the mainstream media as nothing more than sex objects, maids, or matronly housewives. I have realized that my life depends upon my becoming assertive to aid migrant workers in my community and my family. If knowledge is power, then it’s vital for me to know that I’m the only one who can define who I am, and that a Mexican American woman can speak up.
Not only do I want to major in Conservation and Resource Studies, but I also want to become a doctor. With this accomplishment I will no longer have to hear a “no” from my mom knowing that a visit to the doctors’ is possible. I will work to rid toxic environments from the labor work my community faces. I’ll become a woman in history that others can look up to, a woman whose mere presence challenges the stereotypes and sexism that permeate our history and our modern world. Overall, with my major I wish to accomplish all of this and provide sustainability and care to my community so that not only they, but also future generations can have healthy lives.