Sometimes a leap of faith is our only means of transportation. Sometimes we take those leaps ourselves, and we just go for it and we get there. Shit just works out for us. But, most of the time, we are too afraid. We will stand at the edge, stare it in its face and won’t take the dive. Then we walk away afraid of all that can go wrong because that’s what our mind tells us. Sometimes what we are most afraid of is the very thing that will set us free, but if you want something, really want it – de todo corazón. Mija, you gotta jump. Como dicen, if you want something you’ve never had, entonces you gotta do something you’ve never done. Stop worrying about what can go wrong and start being excited about what can go right, because sometimes…somehow, someway, the cosmos align, and yes shit works out for us. We defy logic. Moments of grace. Anomalies. Leaps of faith.
Then there are those times where we will not budge. We refuse to waver. We have decided. We are afraid. Things will go bad because that is what makes sense, that is what the pattern has shown us, and we can’t see the big picture ahead. Defeated. Hope has been lost. Sometimes people take those leaps of faith with us. We are the leap. The anomaly.
This is how I felt when I asked about my plans after graduation. I was asked about applying to grad school by my department chair on numerous occasions. My response was always no, I might’ve even said, “Hell, no.” I was struggling in school as it was. My second semester back and I still couldn’t get it together. A pattern. My grades were not all that great. I am not a good student. I will be rejected. I know this. I do not have what it takes. I cannot and will not do it. I could not even handle life as an undergrad. I did not want to deal with the rejection. I needed safety. I needed comfort. I couldn’t see what my department chair saw. He saw something, he always has. My entire life has consisted of defying odds that should have made me fail. I was tired. Tired of fighting against all I was trying to break from. I wasn’t supposed to make it this far. An anomaly. The first Homegirl to graduate from a University. For my department chair, I was the leap.
It was a Wednesday. We were doing my final advisement for graduation. Looking at his computer, my department chair asked me about grad school yet again. “Where would you go, if you knew you’d get in?,” he asked. “CSUN, where else?,” I replied. “And what would you get your master’s in?” “Chicano Studies, of course,” I said enthusiastically. “And your thesis would be on what?…” “I would like to explore the prison to school pipeline and the marginalization of incarcerated and previously incarcerated women,” I said. He looks up and says, “Great, we have professors here that are leading scholars in the area…it is Wednesday, the application for grad school is due this Friday, you need a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. I know you won’t ask me for it, so I am going to go ahead and write one.” He believed in me, I was his leap of faith. I took it, even though my gut told me not to. I didn’t want to regret not taking the leap and what-if myself. Take the risk or lose the chance. Take the risk or always look back thinking I should have.
There are times when we can’t see what is possible, clouded by our fears, the patterns, the things that have gone wrong, and so we refuse to leap. The odds are stacked against us, our minds tell us “it won’t work.” If we could only see that all limitations are self-imposed and based in fear, we would leap at once. We would jump without the fear of falling. We would dive in without reservation. Father Greg takes the leap when he gives all of us second chances and I know he will give a third and fourth if need be. He talks about his approach as a “no-matter-whatness.” Brittany Morton who runs the bridge to college program at Homeboy and her push to get me to go back to school, and those like Dennis Lopez, who guided me and assisted me in overturning CSUN’s decision to not grant me financial aid, y Gabriel con su apoyo in getting me to apply to grad school. These particular leaps of faith, among many others, are what has carried me through. I have people who have believed in me, and they have been my mode of transportation, allowing me to take my leaps. It’s what has gotten me here.
With a day to work on my Grad school application, I got it in with the help of my leap of faith posse of course.
A few weeks after submitting my application, I got an email that read, “Congratulations, you have been accepted to the MA program in the Chicano/a Studies Dept. at California State University, Northridge.”
I leapt because my department chair pushed me. What if I fall? pero Corazón, que tal si vuelas.
Perhaps I will suck at Grad school. Perhaps I will not. Seeing how it all works out, that will be an adventure. In my experience, if something is important, even if the odds are stacked against you, do it. As a reminder, take into account that great achievements take risks y vuela corazón, abre tus alitas y vuela.
Gracias a los soñadores, the pushers, the voladores and the believers. The world needs more people like Gabriel Gutierrez, Brittany Morton, Dennis Lopez, and Fr. G’s. Y para los lógicos, ponte las alitas y sorprendete.
She is a recent cancer survivor and through some years of adversity has risen above all her recent challenges. Lily is a Homeboy Industries graduate and full-time student at California State University, Northridge. She has continued to live her life in South Los Angeles with her two children. She works to show her children that anything can be done with hard work, determination and perseverance even in the face of unimaginable challenges. Her daughter is in a Charter School and she is working to find the right Preschool program for her youngest child.
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- De La Prisión a Graduación: Me Lo Gane, Pero Podría Adueñarme del Título? - June 15, 2017
- From Prison to Graduation: I Earned it, But Could I Own it? - June 15, 2017
- A Program like POPS Needs to be Expanded to Meet the Needs of Students with Incarcerated Parents. - July 25, 2016