Don’t Tell Me I Can’t

Well before talk of walls and pathways to citizenship, I met Consuelo Garcia (the first name is real, I kept the second name private). Consuelo is an American citizen by birth. Her parents crossed into the U.S. somewhere along the Rio Grande illegally. She was born two years after her parents settled in San Antonio. The first of seven children. When I met Consuelo, she was 35 years old.

Consuelo’s father worked as a day laborer getting jobs wherever he could find one. Her mother worked as a maid in the homes on the North side of San Antonio. I relate Consuelo’s story as she told it to me.

Consuelo was an excellent student. In high school, her GPA was 4.0. (My note: I only saw a 4.0 in a dream). She never received a grade lower than an A in all her college prep courses. In the fall of her senior year, she went to her guidance counselor to seek advice on how to apply to college. The counselor said, “The girls in this school (98% Mexican-American) get pregnant and get a job. That will probably happen to you. Let’s talk about the kind of job you want.”

Consuelo walked out of the counselor’s office crying. That night she told her parents what happened. Her uneducated father and mother were angry. They told her they would take her to university and find out how to apply. The next morning, Saturday, they drove to campus. Not much was happening. All offices were closed. They walked around campus and found the library. The entered the library. A staff member saw the bewildered look on their faces and asked if she could help. Consuelo spoke to the staff member (her parents’ English was limited). The staff member brought her application materials and made sure she understood what she had to do.

Four years later, Consuelo graduated from the University magna cum laude. I met Consuelo in my graduate level Change Class. She was and is a remarkable woman of courage.

Consuelo’s story is one of courage, tenacity, and believing in dreams.

Today, I will continue to believe in my dreams. I will have the courage and tenacity to chase them, no matter the challenges. Hoping you do the same.


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