My name is Silvia and I am originally from Michoacán, Mexico.
My mom came to the United States when I was 7, leaving my sister and me behind. Those were very hard years. Nine to be exact. After she left, no one was there to help me study or to care how I was doing in school. All I heard was that I wasn’t good enough.
When I finally came to the United States to be with my mom I was 14, I only went to high school for a few months because the language was so difficult, and to be honest I was scared to go after hearing that I wasn’t good at school. So I quit and started working.
Soon I realized that I didn’t wanted to be working in a fast food restaurant for the rest of my life. So I decided to go back to school.
After I finished my ESL classes I started taking medical assisting classes. I worked from 11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. My classes were from 8:30 – 12:00. After class, I took a nap, picked up my daughter from school and did homework. Then I went back to work at night.
Now I think, “Oh my God. How did I do that?”
I graduated in December. Now I am an optometrist assistant. I check vision and medical history of each patient. The doctors are cataract and glaucoma surgeons, so I do testing that they need.
Before I had this job, the only thing I knew about the field is that I had two eyes. Now I do six different optometry tests, including vision pressure. I feel so proud that I can do this job.
After I finish testing the patient, patients sometime ask me “So what’s the doctor going to do now? You did everything.” What I learned at school as a medical assistant is nothing compared to what I came to learn here. I love my work.
Upward Scholars (a local non-profit) helped me with my education. They paid for my books. They gave me a laptop. They advised me about my career. I always knew they believed in me. And that helped me believe in myself.
But I’m not stopping. I am going to university. I want to be a nurse. I tell my daughter, “I want you to see me there so you know that you can do it too.”