Education. What is it? What does it really mean? Each of us has our own journey and relationship with education. Our own education, the education of our children and education at large. It all means something different to everyone. I want to share with you what it meant to La Comadre contributor and parent advocate, Eva Heredia, of San Jose.
At 41 years of age, Eva went back to school to attain her high school diploma. Two years later, earlier this summer, Eva graduated and received her high school diploma. We are all proud of her and thrilled about her future and what will come next for her.
Eva’s unlikely journey began when she was a student in Mexico.
Eva admits that she was not always a straight A student, in fact, she struggled to do well and although she passed her classes (but never with a 10/10 grade) education did not come easy for her, and she did not have a support system or someone to motivate her. She recalls how in Mexico, one must enlist (register) themselves for high school. She did just that but was ultimately unable to pay the required registration fee to attend. At that time, she was living with her mother, and they just did not have the fees. Faced with the dilemma, Eva had to decide whether she would look for work to pay her tuition or forego her education so she could work to contribute to the household to help her mother and family. Eva chose the latter.
And so it was that Eva left Mexico and came to the United States with an 8th grade education and accepted that to be her educational fate.
Fast forward to 2017, Eva always wanted to return to school to receive her diploma but like in so many other cases, life happened and Eva then decided to make her family a priority. When her daughters were younger, she remembers telling her husband that she wanted to devote her time to raising her daughters and decided to put off her own education. Again.
As her daughters got older and began attending elementary school, she realized that she wasn’t always able to help them with their homework. On one occasion, her oldest daughter told her that she wasn’t able to help her because she didn’t get to finish her education.
And just like that, Eva decided to go back to school. She wanted her daughters to know that nothing is impossible. Her daughters would sometimes tell her that school was too difficult, but Eva was determined. She wanted to be an example and role model, and want to show them that if she could do it, so could they.
Eva had already overcome an obstacle before going back to school, and although she doesn’t necessarily see it as such, the first step toward her education was already achieved by having taught herself English. She did not learn English in a traditional classroom setting, she learned through helping her daughters with their school work, buying books to study language on her own and hard work and perseverance. When Eva applied to high school, there was an English exam that she had to take before starting, and she was able to pass the test despite the fact that she didn’t formally learn English.
Once back in school, Eva thought that she would see more students in her class who were her age but to her surprise, there were many VERY young people. Students who didn’t meet their requirements, people who dropped out and then came back, young teenagers who were coming back from maternity leave trying to attain the same goal as her but not a lot of older women who dropped out at the end of 8th grade. Still she kept going.
At times, it was very difficult having to work, attend to her family’s needs and still be a student. Fortunately, her oldest daughter, Esperanza (Hope) was like her personal tutor, and her husband was also extremely helpful especially with math. With the help and support of her family, in June of 2019, Eva became a high school graduate.
Eva now says that she feels extremely proud and confesses that she felt at some points that she didn’t think she could keep going and finish. In a much different environment than the one she grew up in, this time the motivation from other people around her is what gave her the ganas to keep going. Eva also hopes that her unlikely educational journey will serve as an example for other mothers and women to know that they can do whatever it takes to move forward for themselves and for their children.
Eva’s oldest is now starting high school, and the family will have a very different routine to get accustomed to. But one thing is for certain, there is no fee to register for Eva’s daughter, and she will go to high school. As for Eva, once they have established a routine, she plans to meet with a counselor and figure out what the best next steps are.
On thing is certain, Eva does plan to continue her education.
Eva, all of us at La Comadre our so very proud of you and we look forward to celebrating your next educational milestone! We know it will be big! Adelante…
Alma V. Marquez
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