Yudith Carlson, Hispanic/Mexican
My name is Yudith Carlson. I'm from Worthington, Minnesota, but I was born in Michoacan, Mexico. I came to the United States in 1999, and I didn't know a word of English. When I first left Mexico, everything was different, completely different when you don't know anybody. You pretty much start from zero. It was hard. I cried every day. I wanted to go back.
Before my family came to the United States, my dad was the first to work here as he'd come to the United States to work in the California fields. He'd travel back and forth. He was trying to get us legalized (obtain legal immigration to travel*)because he was the only one that could. And once he was able to do that, which took like ten years, he was able to bring us, and we could be together.
He came to the US when he was 17, and since he worked out in the fields, the US administration had a program to help migrant workers with their immigration status. He obtained a green card, and after that, he applied for us to come to the US. There are many steps to the process, so it takes a long time to become legalized in the US. Before we came to Worthington, we landed in El Paso, Texas, near the border, to do the immigration interview to become a resident of the United States. After that, when everything became finalized, we came to Worthington. When I came here to Worthington, it was during the winter. It was my first time seeing snow, and it was so cold. I didn't like it.
My mom and dad have worked at the pork plant here all their life, pretty much, so far, 20 years. Everything our parents have done has been for their kids. So I'm very grateful to them. My parents are very traditional, but many things that they instill in us are our morals, such as, if you do everything right, everything will work out for you.
When I came to Minnesota, I was in the eighth grade. There were only a few kids that could speak Spanish. I ended up being in ESL (English as a Second Language)
classes. It was very hard making friends and attending classes when I had no idea what the teacher was saying. I feel like I didn't do everything because my parents didn't speak English. I had to do many things on my own, like homework, and it was hard because back then, the schools didn't have the support they have now; back then, you could count the Hispanic kids and could speak Spanish. I would say 80% or more of the school population was white, and it was hard. But, I graduated high school. I didn't go to college right away. I ended up getting married to a very traditional Hispanic guy who didn't want me to go to college. But I pushed and pushed, and I was like, I want to go to college, even if I also had a little girl, my daughter. I ended up going to the city college in Fresno, California. It was hard for me to do the traditional city college due to my child's age, so I went to a private college where I studied Business Administration. It was very hard. It was pretty much working during the day, coming home, and then leaving for college. I was going to college at night. It didn't take as long. I chose a shorter program, it was more expensive, but it was faster. And I ended up getting my two-year college degree. I felt accomplished because I didn't give up. The relationship I was in at the time didn't work because I was more open-minded, and I wanted different things-- I didn't want to be a traditional wife and cook. I wanted to succeed in life and have a career.
I'm very proud that I went to college even if there were obstacles in my way. My parents brought us over to have a better life, and they supported me in getting more education. I've also been able to see the world because of the job I have, and it's because of my education. And I think that's something that when I moved here and saw everything that you could do, that was one of my goals, like, it didn't matter what I did, I was going to go to college, and it paid off.
Personal future goals:
I want to keep working, keep climbing the ladder, keep moving on, like for my job, I don't know, maybe have a better position later on. But overall, I'm very content. We've been able to make a pretty good life for ourselves. We have three houses, a good job, and my husband or kids are doing well. So I guess I have everything I want and need so far, but I'm always striving to get better and be better. I'm proud of where I come from. I'm proud to be an immigrant.
Advice for others:
Try different things, study different things. If you don't like it, finish that year off or change the course, or don't do it anymore.