Translation: Armando Garcia
Hello! My name is Armando Garcia and I have four amazing children. I was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and was in the sixth grade when I had to quit school to start working to support the family. I worked on a strawberry farm, planting and picking strawberries. My family lived day by day, and we did not have a lot of money. If we worked, we had money to eat. If we didn’t work, we didn’t have the money to eat.
While in Mexico, I dreamed of a better life—for me and my family. I eventually came to the US in 1999 on a work visa. I now work on a sod farm as a mechanic. I often work long hours, and I do it for my family.
One day, I heard about Leadership Scholars on the radio: it was a program about education for immigrants. I came to the first class, and I have never missed one class since that day. It takes me an hour and ten minutes to get to the program from my house, but I do it to be able to help my kids do better in school. The most important thing I learned was about how to connect better with my children because I work long hours. It is important for me to learn how to make the most of the time I spend with my children.
I also liked meditation because it was relaxing. The Hispanics are always very stressed with a lot of work, so it helped me a lot. I was able to think better, and relax. I have taught my wife how to do it as well because she always comes home very stressed.
I was most happy to learn about college admissions, and what it takes to help my children get into college and get money for college. Learning about college, financial aid and scholarships was so important. Suddenly there was a door open that I didn’t know existed, and if I ever thought it existed, I didn’t think I’d be able to open it.
To my children, Erika, Bryan, Daniel, Armando Jr.--
Whatever I do, and all the effort I put in, is because of you. We make a lot of sacrifices because we love you very much. I want you to understand that you are important to me, and it doesn’t matter if we are tired, or if we don’t feel like going to certain events—we will show up –and we do it because you, my children, are the most important thing to us.
I want to tell my children, and all of the children here, that anything is possible with education. And as I always tell you, my children, “You are going to college”