How Being an Immigrant & Mother of a Child with Special Needs Shaped my Experience in the U.S. School System

Oftentimes, parents plan for children. They decide on how many they’ll have and the right time to have them. For me and my husband, it was different. Our beautiful son Alejandro arrived without a plan at all. Alejandro is special to us. He was born, weighing only 2 pounds, prematurely at 5 months. After several months, we took him home from the hospital and I was concerned that he wouldn’t develop the same as other children. But I’ve learned that, in reality, all children are different. From the moment he was born, I knew that Alejandro was probably going to have special needs and he does, as he’s now in an IEP (Individualized Education Program).

I’ve always stayed informed about my child’s education, but before Alejandro was born, I didn’t know what the public school system was like in this country. However, my experiences in education began way before my son was even born. I’ve always valued education as a way to succeed in life. Like many Latinos in this country seeking a better life and future for ourselves and our families, my husband and I decided to immigrate to the United States 22 years ago. At the time, I was studying at the University of Jalisco in Lagos Moreno, Jalisco, but I wasn’t seeing opportunities to get ahead in Mexico. Although my father always motivated us to study because he also saw the value of education, the university I was attending was new. I was a part of the second class to ever major in accounting. I also studied English and I wanted to practice. This motivated us, even more, to immigrate to the U.S. When we first got here, we arrived in Texas. Then we moved to Chicago, thanks to a job opportunity, and we lived there for eight years. We now live in San Jose, California, to be closer to the family because that’s very important to us. 

Despite my own educational experiences, as an immigrant and mother of a child with special needs, it’s been difficult to navigate this country’s education system. While I can’t say it’s been easy, I’m happy to have finally found the supportive community at Rocketship Schools that empowers me as a parent.

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Alejandra Alonso

Alejandra Alonso

Alejandra Alonso immigrated to the U.S. 22 years ago from Jalisco, Mexico. She’s an alumna of the University of Jalisco, where she received her degree in Accounting and English. Alejandra is the mom in a family of three and she’s also the mom to a son with special needs. She’s a firm believer in the phrase “knowledge is power” and sees education as a tool for advocacy. Alejandra lives in San Jose, California and is a member of the Santa Clara County Parent Coalition. Her son now attends a KIPP school.

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