My mother and I have only been living in Arizona for the past eleven years. We immigrated from Baguio City in 2003; I was only eleven back then. Although most of our family still reside back home, I have aunts in New York and Florida from my father’s side. My father’s death at the young age of 27 served to be the worst and unlikely blessing to me and my mom. He died due to a cardiac arrest. Up to this day, they said that the cause of his death was from a “bangungot.” He went to sleep and never woke up. Because of this, my mother was forced to make a decision to work abroad in Taiwan as a registered nurse. I was left in the care of my grandparents. At the early age of five, I had already got ahold of the concept of what it means to be the breadwinner. It meant a lot of sacrifices just so your loved ones won’t have to face the same predicament that you have had to do. It was what my mom did and still continues to do so now.
Her contract ended in Taiwan and once she returned home, she was starting to look for another overseas job. Luckily, an agency was able to process her and the same Filipino co-workers’ papers to work in Arizona as registered nurses. It was very difficult for us in the beginning. I lived in New York with my aunt for two years while my mom was trying to gain stability before she had me live with her. It was a complete culture shock. I had a difficult time making friends. I was fortunate to have made one friend from 6th-7th grade; she was a newly immigrated Filipino as well. Together, we tried to assimilate into the American culture while trying to stay true to our Filipino roots.
Once I moved to Arizona with my mother, transitioning became much easier for me. I began to socialize more and had even met a few other Filipino students as well. I focused all my attention on academics right away. I knew that it would be a great deal of accomplishment to excel in school, especially in America. I immediately entered University High School in Tolleson, AZ. It’s a college preparation program within the public school district and is currently recognized as the #1 school in the state according to AIMS and student growth. I graduated as one of the top 15 out of the 550 students in my graduating class. I attended Grand Canyon University right away and pursued my dream career of being a nurse. It’s a career I really love and was not forced into doing despite many situations among Filipino families where nursing was picked for their child and was not given much of a choice. With immense dedication and hard work, I am proud to say I graduated as Magna Cum Laude of my College of Nursing Bachelor of Science batch. This accomplishment is not only mine, but most of all my mother’s. If she did not show me what perseverance meant, I would have never pushed myself to limits I never thought I could reach. Because of her continued sacrifices, I was always motivated to reach my goals so I could make her proud to say that everything she did was worth it. All the lonely days, holidays and birthdays spent apart from each other were investments she had to make so she could see me walk up the stage knowing that she has provided me a better chance of living a good life, that I could support myself. That I would not have to succumb to the same situations she had to do once I have a family of my own. Of course, everything I do is for her and my 3-month-old baby sister, Leonnibelle. They are the people inspire me to become the best version of myself.