Jasmine 2019 Keynote Speaker HCAC

2019 – Jasmine M.

I was ten years old when I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I was put in a national clinical trial in which I was the only survivor. While I was sick, I wasn’t able to attend the traditional school setting, I was homeschooled with one teacher who taught me all the subjects and when I was in 8th grade I went back to the regular school system.

Before I knew it, I went from being a single student at home, to an 8th grader at a small middle school, to a freshman in high school. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by hundreds of students, I was juggling seven classes, and my schedule was packed with all of these extracurriculars and responsibilities Keeping up with my grades was hard enough, but now I had to focus on other things too like a social life. I was officially a regular high school student, but I was not a regular girl.

I’m happy to share that I have officially been cancer free for five years. But that’s not to say that life is easier. I still have my struggles, my constant check ups and worries about complications that may arise.

All of this has put the irreplaceable value of education into perspective in my life. In a way I was at a disadvantage compared to other students at school. But I never let that take away from my likeliness to succeed- the exact opposite- everything that I have gone through from Chemo Therapy to Hip Surgeries and the fact that I had managed to overcome that-> fueled me and became my motivation to achieve my goals and be the best I could be in everything I did. Not only for myself but for my family and community. This fall I plan to attend UC Davis and I will be pursuing a degree in Communicative Disorders and I hope to Eventually become a speech language pathologist.

Before I leave today I want to prove two things with my story:

The first being that regardless of how many obstacles come at you- health related or not- the struggles make you stronger and become your inspiration by driving you to be great and reach something better in life. And it is very much possible. Secondly, as a latina, I want to help break the stigma and stereotypes that exist about the hispanic community. I want to be yet another example that we have the ability to be anything we desire and we most definitely have the potential to be successful and to be

Lastly, I would like to thank the Hispanic Community Affairs council for giving me the opportunity to share my story and to further my education. Thank you.

hcac keynote speaker Anthony

2019 – Anthony V.

Did you know that, “Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos.” That’s a quote that hangs on my wall. I also have one in my wallet that says, “ you will receive a large sum of money”, but i’m still waiting on that one to happen. I was raised in union city and am the youngest of 3 siblings. My father and mother are immigrants from Mexico, like so many in California, and they both worked hard to give us a life they could only dream of having in Mexico. My father worked very hard and held more than one job and at one point he held 3 jobs in order to support my family. He did that so we could have a home and a mother that didn’t have to work and always be there if we needed her. This huge sacrifice meant we hardly ever saw our father. The few moments we did have with him, he always ensured we learned some kind of lesson. The most important lessons that I learned from my father was to sacrifice for your dreams and family, never forget where you come from, and to always be strong.

After high school my parents convinced me to go to community college instead of working. I decided to go to Laney college in Oakland and become an electrician, I graduated Laney college with highest honors with an associate’s of science in electrical technology. I soon found work with an electrical company. I worked there for a bit and I soon figured out that wasn’t the career for me. I just had this feeling that I couldn’t just stop here I wish I could continue my education but in what? What do I study? How am i going to support myself? One day I decided to take a chance, I quit the electrical job and decided to go back to school.

When I got home I had to tell my parents. They were very confused at first. Then confusion turned into disappointment and quickly after into anger. My father was extremely angry and more so he was angry that he had helped pay for my schooling and transportation and felt that it was all for nothing. He told me that I had to figure it out on my own and that he wasn’t going to be able to support me anymore. That was not the reaction i was expecting. I was depressed, alone, and afraid. I went to tell my girlfriend about my decision. She started reading off a list of majors offered at the college, but nothing sounded appealing. It was near the bottom of the list she read aloud psychology. My eyes lit up with interest.

At this moment I realized that I would have to follow and use those lessons I learned as a young boy through this difficult time. I was going to have to sacrifice time hanging out with friends and doing things I enjoyed. I got a part-time job. I also now had to pay rent, gas, food, books, school expenses, and save for the future. What helps me get through tough times is something called the 40% percent rule, that is taught to the toughest warriors in the world, the Navy Seals. This rule is very simple, when you feel you have reached your breaking point and you can no longer take one more step or one more breathe, you are only at 40% percent of your true potential. My advice to everyone is to strive for more than 40% and if you do fail just make sure you don’t quit.

I would like to thank HCAC for their support. My plans for the future is to get a bachelors in psychology from Cal State East bay and then pursue my masters in School Psychology. I look forward to working and giving back to my community. Thank you.

HCAC keynote speaker Hector

2018 – Hector L.

Good afternoon board members, students, ladies and gentlemen.

I am very honored to be speaking to you today and feel privileged to share my story. For just a moment I want you to imagine yourself learning to drive a car by just reading a manual, it’s impossible. This is exactly how I felt when I realized how little it helped me to have taken English classes throughout my life in a Spanish speaking country.

My name is Hector Lopez. I was born in Fairfax, Virginia. I moved with my mom and brother to Guatemala when I was five years old.  My dad continued living here in the US to provide us with financial support. Living in Guatemala, I experienced an amazing and rich culture, but I also witnessed many families living in poverty who weren’t able to fulfill many of their basic needs. Seeing the cruel reality that affects many people in Guatemala totally shaped my personality and career plans. This situation also affected my parents growing up in Guatemala.

I didn’t experience poverty myself, indeed,  I attended private schools throughout my school life. In school, I took English classes, but they were pretty basic, learning some vocabulary and to translate. Although I always wanted to come back to the US, my mom wouldn’t let me return until I was old enough to take care of myself. I was always afraid of the great obstacles that I knew I was going to face moving to an unknown culture, but I never saw myself accomplishing my goals in Guatemala. Regardless of my fears, in 2015, I decided to return because I wanted a better future for my family and myself. When I first arrived, everything was so different to what I was used to- the culture, the lifestyle, and even the food tasted different, but those changes weren’t going to stop me from pursuing a higher education, so I eventually learned to adapt. In Guatemala, I finished high school however that diploma wasn’t recognized here. When I found out that I wasn’t going to able to pursue a high school diploma because I was almost eighteen years old when I arrived, I felt lost because I didn’t know the steps I needed to take to continue with my education.

Later on, my dad and I found out that it was possible to obtain a high school diploma equivalent through passing the GED exams. So I immediately started attending classes at Hayward Adult School to prepare for the tests and within a couple of months I passed them all. During this time I was also learning English by myself because I knew that my lack of fluency in the language was going to affect me if I wanted to continue my education in college. As soon as I received my GED diploma, I immediately registered to Chabot College. During my first semesters, I struggled a lot when trying to participate in class-not being able to state your ideas when debating a topic was frustrating at first, it felt like being mute, but this motivated me to work harder on my fluency.

My plan for my undergraduate education is to transfer from Chabot College to UC Davis or UC Santa Cruz in order to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. Then, I plan to become a medical doctor. My final goal is to become a Pediatrician and one day be able to support underprivileged families.

As the son of immigrants, I am aware of the economic limitations I have in this society. It’s not going to be easy to achieve my goals, but thanks to incredible people as the board members of this organization who volunteer to find economic resources for students like me, as well as for our donors who water the seed of our dreams, helping them grow and become true.

English is the language I use more often, but from the language of my heart I tell you “Nunca renuncies a lo que realmente merece la pena”. Thank you.

Paola HCAC 2018 Keynote Speaker

2018 – Paola S.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, My name is Paola.

I was born here in the U.S. though when I was 10 years old my family decided to move back to Mexico. At 17, I had my first child Kimberly and had to make a decision to continue my studies or go to work because I did not have anyone to take care of my daughter. I decided to sell used clothes in a sidewalk in a small flea market, because it was the only job that would allow me to have my daughter with me. It wasn’t until I was 21 when I decided to return to the United States. I felt out of place and hopeless being a mother and lacking a high school diploma. So I decided to leave everything behind, including my biggest supporters–my parents. I came to the U.S. with no money but with a lot of faith. I felt like a complete foreigner I had an idea on how the future was looking for me and decided I needed to make a change. I knew very little English and was embarrassed to speak out loud to expose my accent. There was also a huge culture shock—big cities, fast paced environment and diverse populations. Everything was so difficult because I had to work, be a mother and study at the same time. It was twice as hard for me to adapt, but I knew everything was going to be worth it.

Fast forward to today, I have used my past along with my daughter as an instrument of motivation to work hard in school, and it has worked. I am currently majoring in nursing at Chabot College with a 4.0 GPA. Being a College student, a fulltime employee and a parent has been challenging but it has also taught me that I am capable of overcoming challenges, as well being a great multitasker.

The reason why I really want to do more in my life by pursuing higher education is to set a good example for my daughter. I am currently the first one in my family to attend college and I feel honored and privileged to be able to set a new standard and tradition where education is valued. I would like to become a nurse because I absolutely love to help people, and nursing will allow me to do this on a daily basis. I see myself working in a hospital, helping my patients, comforting families, providing care to all those people that need it, that day will be one of the best days of my life–the day I reached my goal.

It is such an amazing feeling for me personally to know that there are always helpful organizations like HCAC that help students with their educational pursuits. I just feel blessed that I am given the opportunity to be awarded a scholarship to help fulfill my dream and I will prove that I do have what it takes to not only be a successful student, but an outstanding Nurse.

Thank you.