In the media, working class immigrant women are often depicted uneducated, conniving and inarticulate. My life, however, as an SFSU graduate student and as a working class immigrant Pilipina American who has supported herself since age 18-speak of a different experience. Watching both my parents slave over 12 hour working days, seven days a week in menial labor jobs just to make rent for a one bedroom apartment was my reality as a child. My parents' work ethic and daily struggles continue to serve as an inspiration for me to strive for a relevant and meaningful education and profession-and to be the first in my family to receive a graduate degree.
Thanks to my parents' encouragement, I was able to graduate cum laude at UCLA with a Psychology and Asian American Studies double major and an Education minor. In my four years at UCLA, I was a five time recipient of the Provost's Honors List. My most rewarding experiences in college, however, were outside of the classroom walls. As a graduating senior I was also recognized with the UCLA Chancellor Service Award, the Pilipino Graduation Enlightenment Award and A. Magazine's Top 10 Student Leader in the Nation for initiating my own community service tutorial project in South Central, Los Angeles-a poor, urban and underserved community. The project was called Project S.E.T. (South Central Evening Tutorial) and we mentored and tutored the children of immigrant parents who were attending evening adult school four nights a week.
My work with Project S.E.T. further catapulted me to work on issues of student and community empowerment. After graduation I worked as a full time director of a student retention project at UCLA's Student Retention Center (SRC). At the SRC we served over 5,000 "at risk" and "historically under-served" students a year. We worked to retain students on academic difficulty and to readmit dismissed students through peer counseling, mentorship, academic workshops, and student initiated seminars. Because of my work at the Student Retention Center and the greater Los Angeles community, I was also invited to participate in the Committee for Pilipino American Studies Conference at UC Berkeley and the RAND Collaborative on Pilipino Health, Education and Development.
Last August I moved from Southern California to San Francisco to pursue a Master's degree in Education in a concentration on Equity and Social Justice. I hope to use this degree to prepare me for a Ph.D. program and my professional goal of being a university professor in the field of Education and Ethnic Studies - two fields which have direct impact and relevancy to underserved, immigrant youth. Being a full time student and simultaneously working 20 hours a week at the College of Education's Cahill Learning Resources and Media Lab (or Cahill) and has been both challenging and rewarding.
At SFSU, I have been able to coordinate programming and curriculum displays for the staff, students and faculty of the College of Education. I am also a part of the committee for the Asian Diaspora Pre-conference for the upcoming national Adult Education Research Conference (AERC) at SFSU in early June. My work at Cahill and my involvement in the College of Education serves to educate the SFSU community about social issues usually neglected in the schools-issues such as community and individual empowerment; community development; race, class and gender identity; and immigrant/migrant labor.
My work on and off campus as a graduate student continues SFSU's legacy of having a community based education. This academic year, my work at Cahill enabled me to coordinate multicultural education materials and children's activities for 100+ youth in the Pilipino Unity Day cultural program in the South of Market area. I have also been invited to facilitate workshops on multicultural education and community development for a class in the College of Education and with a visiting Pilipino student organization from Los Angeles. I have a social responsibility to share with the community what SFSU has contributed to my learning and my personal development.
Without any source of income for the academic year, however, will make it difficult to continue my graduate work while being in great financial difficulty. Receiving the scholarship will provide me with the peace of mind and security to manage my rent, utilities, transportation and book expenses. The scholarship will allow me the time to focus on maintaining my 4.0 GPA, take up full load of classes while simultaneously preparing for my research and my thesis-my culminating experience. My parents' legacy and experiences continue to motivate me to persist and to use my education to better the conditions within immigrant, working class communities. I trust the scholarship selection committee will provide me the support I need to continue my studies here at SFSU and to actualize my professional goal to be an educator.