Defying the Odds

“You will be here.”

Those were the words that my father told my sister and I back when we were kids as he brought us around the college campus where he worked as a cook. 

>>My family grew up in a rough-and-tumble area in Los Angeles, and though we had little, we were rich… in culture, in love, and in support.<<

  • We survived off of donations from our church.
  • My mom homeschooled us because she didn’t feel our neighborhood was safe.
  • Every summer, she’d go dumpster diving at the local school to find old books the teachers had thrown away and reuse them for us. 

When I was 17 years old, I felt overwhelmed and put pressure on myself to use education to change the course of my family’s history.

I was lost, alone, and the daughter of an immigrant. I was also the first to go to college.

I wanted to get out, I was desperate to move away from the financial hardships, government assistance, and unpredictability.

Back then, my father’s words of complete confidence didn’t mean as much as they do now.

Now, years later, I have the opportunity to give the encouragement and support I wish I had listened to.

I recently spoke at Brandman University for Spark U, an educational event for female high school seniors of color. I was filled with emotions and flashbacks to my own adolescence. 

When I put myself in the shoes of the girls in the room, I wanted to hug them, shake them, and shout: IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY, AND BETTER THAN YOU THINK.

*Actually, I did all three!*

I looked at those girls and saw a version of my 17-year-old self. 

It was a true déjà vu moment seeing them so determined to thrive and conquer in spite of everything that’s against them.

I couldn’t help but give them a pep-talk, just like my father gave to me.

“You will be here.”

>>You have the power to defy the odds. You simply have to believe in yourself.<<

I said this to a room full of high school girls, but I’m also saying it to you, boo boo.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that a girl from the hood had the capability to do what I’m doing now, but here I am.

*If only my 17-year-old self could see me now, I think she’d be pretty proud!*

I hope this piece of my story sheds light into how thankful I am to spread a message of hope.

>>Believe in yourself, work hard with what you’ve got, and you, too, will defy the odds!<<

If you could go back and give a pep-talk to your 17-year-old self, what would you say?